Ofcom seeks views on ITV, STV, UTV and Channel 5 licences
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.
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.
Ofcom is proposing to maintain the existing programming obligations in the Channel 5 licence.
Ofcom proposes to create a separate Channel 3 licence for Wales by redrawing the boundaries of ITV's Wales and West licence. Under this proposal, the remaining area covered by that licence - Bristol, Somerset, parts of Wiltshire and Gloucestershire - would then be served by the South West of England licence currently held by ITV.
The two regions within the Wales and West of England licence already receive separate regional programming and there are separate licence obligations in relation to each. Ofcom is proposing to maintain the current level of regional programming which is required for Wales in the new Wales only licence.
The Communications Act 2003 requires that Ofcom must determine the financial terms on which the licences will be renewed. The consultation proposes a methodology to calculate those financial terms.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
- On 21 November 2012, Maria Miller, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, announced that she did not intend to block the renewal of the current licences for Channel 3 and Channel 5. In May 2012, Ofcom submitted its report to the Secretary of State (PDF, 598.8 KB) under Section 229 of the Communications Act (2003) on the effect of licence conditions and other arrangements on the capacity of the existing Channel 3 and Channel 5 licence holders to "contribute, in the next licensing period, to the fulfilment of the purposes of public service television broadcasting in the United Kingdom at a cost to the licence holders that is commercially sustainable".
- The process and timetable for the renewal of the Channel 4 licence are different to Channel 3 and Channel 5 licences. The current Channel 4 licence expires on 31 December 2014.