Brum or Bust? A fuzzy picture for local TV

The West Midland’s central hub, Birmingham is as good a place as any to set up a local TV network. Vibrant, diverse, lots of larger than life characters and more than a smattering of talent. It’s one of the best places in England to have a conversation about community cohesion. So why did Birmingham’s City TV go bust? Perhaps the timetable was too ambitious? Or the costs ran out of control. Was it the reluctance of advertisers to see the value in the local pound? On the whole, the big advertising spenders, the major auto, household product, FMCG, and telecoms brands are a rather conservative bunch when it comes to buying media. Not in terms of advertisement creativity or execution, no, there’s a spaghetti junction of creativity here. My guess is it’s the advertisers’ lack of surety about getting a decent return on the advertising expenditure.


The Rotunda, Birmingham City Centre
The Rotunda, Birmingham City Centre

Think about it, if you were a major car brand would you pay to advertise to a local market or pay a advertise to the whole nation? The media buyer can already ‘cut up’ media into regional slices so what is the real advantage of local telly? Getting into the heart of the people. That’s what. Understanding the challenges local communities face in employment, housing and social cohesion. Working out solutions for local issues: job losses, influx of new communities: the opportunity to examine communities how they live now and how they used to live, forensically. The editorial advantages of local TV would certainly benefit local policy-makers and potentially advertisers, but it’s a question of revenue and expediency. Reviewing the schedule for #LondonLive there’s an acceptable dose of local London stories but a whole lot of mainstream programming which is I guess keeps audiences locked in and the advertisers happy.  It’s the typical journalistic conundrum: how do you give the audience what they want, the advertisers what they want and keep your editor happy?

There is no easy solution to this one, but I truly hope that a successful formula is found to use local TV as the emollient for some or our dry, cracked communities, providing entertainment, debate, and deeper understanding of the people you share a city with.

An update about Sheffield TV and how they are overcoming their funding challenges:

Well, there’s no harm is hoping.


Conversation Between Friends about community cohesion
Conversation Between Friends about community cohesion


© Suzy Rigg

Writing every word



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