The city was identified as having good local spectrum coverage and significant levels of interest from potential operators and audiences. Ofcom will now consult on these areas and its proposed licensing process.
“I am confident these new stations will provide local communities with programming which is relevant to their daily lives, will support local democracy, boost the big society and enhance local communities,” said Hunt.
Newcastle will join Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton and Hove, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Grimsby, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Plymouth, Preston, Southampton and Swansea.
A further 24 areas identified for a future round of licensing comprises Aberdeen, Ayr, Bangor, Barnstaple, Basingstoke, Bedford, Cambridge, Carlisle, Derry / Londonderry, Dundee, Guildford, Hereford, Inverness, Kidderminster, Limavady, Luton, Maidstone, Malvern, Mold, Salisbury, Sheffield, Stoke on Trent, Stratford upon Avon and York.
The Government is also taking a number of steps to create a new statutory framework for licensing that will allow for transmission infrastructure to be built and the new local TV services to start operating. Spectrum will be awarded through a competitive process to a single multiplex operator to provide the distribution for local TV. DCMS expects to unveil the necessary enabling legislation shortly.
In August, Hunt joined Northern Film & Media for a packed industry consultation on the plans and discussion of the business models that would underpin such a network - click here to view the video highlights. As part of the licence fee settlement in October 2010, the BBC agreed to commit up to £25 million towards capital investment for local TV.
“We’re pleased to see that Newcastle is at the forefront of the local TV drive. It will be fascinating to see how the business models evolve and whether the network can sustain a commercial opportunity for independent content creators,” said Agnes Wilkie, Northern Film & Media’s creative director.