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ThE MaStEr

Ex-Channel M boss says local TV will work


Friday, November 5 2010,

The former chief executive of the failed Manchester television station Channel M has today insisted that the government's local TV plans will prove successful.

Mark Dodson, the former boss of MEN Media, was made redundant this February when Channel M was mothballed by its owner, the Guardian Media Group.

Speaking at a City University conference on local television, Dodson expressed his belief that "the city TV model is the only model that's going to work quickly enough" for local TV, reports the Press Gazette.

He said that Channel M generated annual revenues of £4.3 million and attracted around 300,000 viewers a week, but was hindered by a lack of support.

"There's no currency in the advertising market for local TV, the Barb figures are not sensitive enough. There's no network for national advertising... and the analogue signal that we inherited from government was not fit for purpose," he said.

"We had just got on Freeview at a time when the investment and patience had run out."

However, Dodson added: "Just because Channel M failed it doesn't mean city TV will fail. Within three years we will have a network of TV stations in Britain starting with eight city-based networks that will help more rural stations down the line."

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt hopes to create a network of local TV stations in the UK to create the same kind of vibrant services as seen in countries such as the US.

He has tasked Lazard's head of investment banking Nicholas Shott with investigating local television, including how regulation could be changed to stimulate the sector.

Media analyst Claire Enders, who is currently serving on Shott's panel, told the conference that a public subsidy will be required to really make local TV work.

"You are not going to see massive amounts of investment in this space because it's not worth it. Local advertising is anaemic, the local press has been in decline for 20 years," she said.

"Advertising agencies want big bang for their buck, the last thing they are interested in is local TV. Subsidy is required and that subsidy might take different forms."

However, former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie, who helped launch Trinity Mirror's failed Live TV local news network in 1995, dismissed the chances of local TV ever proving a success.

"The idea of local TV is a complete disaster and anybody going into it is completely nuts," he said.

"You can't invest enough money to make it look good, but if it doesn't look any good people think it is amateurish and don't want to watch it."


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Ex-Channel M boss says local TV will work





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