Last month, culture secretary Jeremy Hunt announced plans to create a new national television channel for delivering local TV services in "10 to 12" major British cities.
Hunt called for potential bidders to submit proposals for providing the UK-wide channel on digital terrestrial television (Freeview) to act as a "spine" for local services. The channel would have a national schedule of programming, but enable local operators to "opt out" in certain areas to deliver local shows and adverts.
Former Trinity Mirror executive Richard Horwood, the Channel 6 chief executive, has long championed a network/affiliate channel model as the best way to ensure a "vibrant, financially viable future" for local TV in the UK.
Horwood said that local TV must offer compelling and quality programming to attract viewers and advertisers, and a dedicated channel would help providers "share costs, maximize advertising revenues, and deliver an attractive schedule outside local service opt-outs".
Under the Channel 6 plans, claimed to be "fully costed by industry experts", the organisation will launch the national network with around nine local affiliates on Freeview, Virgin Media and satellite in 2013. The number of affiliates will build to 39 by 2017.
Horwood said that the initial target locations will depend on work being done by Ofcom on the best ways to optimise the UK's transmission network. However, he believes that more than 200,000 households would be serviced with local content if the plans go ahead.
"Channel 6 will be entirely funded by advertising, with the initial investment from our national and local partners - we are not asking the government for a penny of subsidy," said Horwood.
"Channel 6 is not just about our own commercial programming. We know many people are keen to experiment with new ways of reaching local audiences, using low-cost production equipment and the enthusiasm and commitment of local activists."
He added: "Channel 6 will support community TV by making capacity available on our network - a whole additional channel broadcast alongside our own programming, and available at no cost to community groups.
"This could be, for example, for ultra-local news focused on a neighbourhood, or programmes of interest to a particular community. What is more, the £5m annual fund the BBC has set aside to buy local programming will be entirely available to those community groups."
In December, an advisory panel run by Lazards investment banker Nicholas Shott indicated that local TV would be viable in around 10 or 12 of the UK's largest cities, starting on Freeview but ultimately moving to IPTV platforms. Shott also estimated that a network of 10 local TV services would have a combined cost base of £25m, meaning £5m would have to come from local advertising and a further £15m from national advertising. The BBC would be required to make up the remaining £5m by providing local content.
However, former BBC director general Greg Dyke claimed that local TV would be commercially viable in at least 60 areas of the UK, largely because the services would "be cheaper to run than Shott believes".