Kingdom to get its own TV channel

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THE DREAM of a TV station dedicated to Fife could soon become a reality, reports NEIL HENDERSON.

Following a change in the government licensing regulations, several Scottish cities would be given to the right to broadcast.

Channel Fife TV- Graeme Campbell

Channel Fife TV- Graeme Campbell

Dundee is one such city and the potential for a Fife TV station is now a real possibility as the broadcast area would extend to North Fife, including Glenrothes.

Any future Fife station would have use of the current BBC transmission facilities, certainly giving it the capability to reach homes in the Kingdom.

One company has already seen the potential of a Fife-wide service having piloted a number of productions which can be obtained via the internet.

Channel Fife operates primarily as a production company dealing with commercial and corporate film making but has developed a number of productions in the last couple of years in preparation for a future station.

Project Director of Channel Fife TV, Graeme Campbell is confident the notion of a Fife TV channel can be realised.

He told the Gazette: “We are currently working hard to finalise a private sector consortium that will drive forward the idea of a Fife station.

“With no financial input from the Scottish or Westminster governments, it would have to be a commercial TV station, financed primarily through advertising revenue.”

The move could initially see a channel broadcast via the digital medium and viewed in the normal way through your television set. Wider access to the channel is the consortium’s long-term goal.

Graeme explained: “Initially it would be a single entity Fife Television station but we are continuing with plans for a multi platform model.

“This would mean access not only via a TV set but also via internet access, and new and emerging technologies such as iphones etc.

“Following our recent meeting with the regulatory body Ofcom, we see a Fife multi platform service feeding into the city stations and expanding into digital transmission at a later date.”

It is hoped that any such developments would come to alive within the next two years.

In fact it is predicted that by 2014, as much as 70 per cent of Scottish Digital Networks output would be made up from independent productions from organisations such as Channel Fife TV.

A decade ago a similar project to deliver local TV using the traditional analog transmitters proved unsuccessful, due in part to poor quality of signal and receivership.

With the advent of the digital format, any future Fife based channel would match the quality currently experienced watching BBC broadcasts.

The move by the government to relax the licensing restrictions is a drive towards generating a local television initiative as part of a wider public service broadcasting review.

The coalition Government’s culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt has opened up the air waves to the possibility of a host of localised stations in the future.

Dave Rushden from the Institute of Local Television feels this move could lay the foundation for a Fife channel.

He said: “Scotland has ample capacity to deliver local television services to a much more discrete civic scale of local viewer”

But he warns that Governments should recognise the value of local knowledge and expertise and should be allowed to operate without centralised interference.

He added: “Westminster should recognise the importance of Scotland to ensure the Scottishness of local content. Though we should be careful not to deliver a centralised model [of local TV] to the compromises of southern England.”

Blair Jenkins, Chair of the Scottish Digital Network, the body that would provide the platform for broadcast is in no doubt about the potential of a localised TV service.

He said: “There is definitely a demand in Scotland for a greater volume and range of high quality Scottish broadcasting.

“It would also serve as a secure and sustainable mode of competition for the BBC which is widely recognised as being needed.”

The proposals have already received cross-party support in Hollyrood and the potential to create new jobs within the industry can only be seen as positive for the area.

MSP Tricia Marwick said: “A dedicated Fife television channel could provide a distinctive local voice on events taking place in the region.

“It could also be a platform for many of our talented young students who are looking to start a career in broadcasting.”

Leader of Fife Council, Peter Grant is sure there would be enough interest in such a project. He added: “An outlet for Fife news and affairs would be excellent.”

Fife TV, a very real possibility on a television near you soon.