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Thursday, 18 December 2014

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Three firms consider bids to run Carlisle TV station

At least three companies are considering mounting a bid to run a new local television station dedicated to Carlisle.

Liz Howell photo
Liz Howell

Ofcom, the Government agency which regulates the broadcasting industry, has advertised a licence to run a new station with a closing date of October 23.

It is part of a national roll-out of local TV which has already seen stations set up for areas such as Norwich, Brighton, Grimsby, London and Glasgow. A further 25 licences have been awarded and are due to start broadcasting within two years.

The Carlisle franchise is one of the smaller franchises available and would broadcast to 90,000 homes from the Caldbeck TV transmitter with programmes available on channel eight of Freeview.

It is believed that three companies are weighing up the commercial viability of running the station.

Former Border TV colleagues Lloyd Watson and Lis Howell have formed a company, Carvetii Media, with a view to submitting a bid.

They share a common background in TV, having both worked as head of news at Border before moving on to other stations including GMTV.

“I think Carlisle is exactly the sort of place where local TV could be very successful,” said Mr Watson. “Some of the licences which have already been advertised are for cities which are much larger than Carlisle and they don’t have the same sense of identity.

“I would love to be able to give the city a TV channel of its own, rather than a channel which is shared with other regions in the north. I think it deserves that.”

Carvetii Media is looking to raise some finance from Cumbrian investors.

Another potential Carlisle bidder is Bay TV, which has already won the licences to run local TV in Liverpool, Swansea and Mold in north Wales.

Bay was set up the Mercury Press Agency in Liverpool, run by Chris Johnson, who told our business website in-Cumbria: “We are certainly interested in Carlisle. We are looking into it and have always had an interest in the licence as our interests are based in the north west.

“We would be looking at a studio in Carlisle with a team to generate local news and sharing generic content with Liverpool.”

Cumbria TV – formerly Lakes TV – is also considering bidding for the licence. The Barrow-based firm was founded by Gary Robinson who has worked extensively in video and documentary projects.

However, two of the larger players in the local TV market have ruled themselves out of bidding for Carlisle. MADE Television, which already has licences for Middlesbrough, Bristol, Cardiff and Tyne & Wear, says it is not interested.

And YourTV, which has won licences for Preston and Blackpool, Manchester and Stoke, said it did not have the resources to apply for Carlisle.

Lin Glover, of the firm, said: “It has come at the wrong time for us as we are preparing for our Preston launch but we would be interested in speaking with anyone interested in a partnership.”

Robin Burgess, chief executive of CN Group which publishes the News & Star, said: “We are interested in this media development in Carlisle which we have been aware of for some time but have not decided whether to make a bid or explore options with other bidders.”

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