The VJ model is making more local tv possible
Television in the UK is about to get more local. The regulator, Ofcom, has started awarding licenses so that local television services can be set up. They will cover places like Manchester, Nottingham and Brighton. Whereas the United States has had local tv for many years, it has never really found a place in the UK. This is partly because of the syndicated model that exists in the US and the way licences are awarded.
The BBC ran a pilot scheme eight years ago, but opposition from newspaper groups meant BBC Local Tv services never materialised. Without a template to work from, the different local stations will likely try different models to make it work. I took part in the BBC pilot scheme and have seen first-hand how difficult it is to create quality programming with such limited resources.
What I have found worrying is some of the reports filtering through to me from the different start-up stations. Many seem to be trying to replicate the big national channels with working practices that suggest that videojournalism may not be embraced as much as it should.
With the affordable, lightweight technology available today, videojournalism is a fantastic option to make the most of limited resources. With a staff of passionate and talented film-makers, these new stations could create news and feature content of a high standard. There simply is not the funding to work in more traditional ways.
I really hope local tv takes off in the UK. It is crazy that a city the size of London does not have the kind of channels small towns in America enjoy. With videojournalism and multi-skilling this can be achieved. If this fast, efficient way of working is not embraced, I fear many of these new stations will struggle to create compelling broadcasting on such limited budgets.