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Offcom and UTV Franchise consultation ends 2nd May, 2012

29 April 2013

Ofcom today invites views on proposals regarding the ITV, STV, UTV and Channel 5 television broadcast licences.

This follows the decision by Maria Miller, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, which enables the renewal of the current public service broadcasting licences for the Channel 3 services (ITV, STV and UTV) and Channel 5.

ITV provides the Channel 3 service in England, Wales and parts of Scotland, STV covers northern and central Scotland and UTV serves viewers in Northern Ireland. The Channel 5 licence covers all of the UK.

Ofcom is now working towards issuing new 10-year licences ahead of the expiration of the current licences at the end of 2014.

Ahead of the next relicensing period, Ofcom has today published three separate consultations. These are on the programming obligations in the licences; the proposed creation of a separate Wales licence from the Wales and West licence currently held by ITV; and the methodology by which Ofcom will determine the financial terms on which the licences will be renewed.

Programming Obligations

Public service broadcasters must meet certain programming obligations, such as the provision of news and current affairs programming and the amount of original and independent productions.

The consultation invites views on these programming obligations in the Channel 3 and Channel 5 licences.

The proposals are to maintain the existing set of obligations for the Channel 3 licensees, subject to the following changes:

  • for the English regional licences currently held by ITV, an increase in the number of regions in England with dedicated news broadcasts from seven to 14, with the cost offset by reducing the amount of regional content required in each licence;
  • for the Border licence currently held by ITV, two alternative proposals to increase the amount of regional news and current affairs programming in the Border area, aimed at enhancing the coverage of Scottish issues for viewers north of the border;
  • for the Northern Ireland licence held by UTV,  a request by UTV to reduce its regional non-news obligation by half an hour a week to bring the regional programming obligations in line with those in Wales and central and northern Scotland;
  • no changes are planned to the obligations for the licensees for Scotland (excluding Border) and Wales.
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