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Channel 4 bids for local TV network

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Television and remote

© Rex Features

Channel 4 has reportedly submitted a bid for culture secretary Jeremy Hunt's proposed national TV network for delivering local services around the UK, while Sky has offered to free up its broadband infrastructure.

According to The Guardian, Channel 4 submitted its proposal on Monday, three working days after the deadline expired on March 1. The broadcaster said that the delay was down to the bid needing to be debated and agreed by its board of directors.

Channel 4 is keen to get involved with the debate on local TV, especially as the new UK-wide TV channel funded by advertising could be a potential competitor to its main network.

The broadcaster has submitted a formal expression of interest to Hunt, dependent on the channel getting the valuable sixth slot on Freeview electronic programme guides.

Few details are known about the bid, but it is thought that Channel 4 is not overly keen on Hunt's idea of a hybrid channel featuring a national schedule with opt-outs for local programming.

Sky has proposed using its broadband and satellite TV network to facilitate the distribution of local television via IPTV, primarily by using the existing yellow button service. Around a third of Sky's 10 million subscribers have IP-enabled set top boxes.

The satellite broadcasting giant has already held talks with Hunt about ways it could assist with the local TV plan as a platform operator. However, the firm is understood to have no plans to offer the Sky News operation as way to generate local news content.

In total, more than 30 bidders are known to have submitted local TV proposals to Hunt's Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Sky and Channel 4 are joined by Richard Horwood's Channel 6 group, Element TV and a Scottish consortium, along with former ITV News editor Nigel Dacre and Welsh independent production company Tinopolis.

Also in the running is the Local Television Network, led by Greg Dyke; the Local6 group backed by former Channel 4 chairman Luke Johnson; TripleSee, an IPTV joint venture fronted by former BBC executive Simon Walker; local media operator Six Television, backed by commercial radio group UKRD; and independent broadcaster Information TV.

DCMS is expected to soon publish a full list of the parties interested in taking on the local TV network, along with their proposals. Details have already been passed to Ofcom and the BBC.

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