West 175 Eyes UK Local TV Licenses

13 February 2002

Multinational media group West 175 Media – of which longstanding British TV presenter David Frost is a director – is mulling a move into the UK’s local television market.

The group already operates three local TV stations in New Zealand, where it has become the leading provider of local news. It is currently in talks with potential partners about acquiring licenses in Britain.

West 175 is helped by the fact that the Local Broadcasting Group, which owns 45 of the 63 local TV licenses, ran out of money in December and is now in administration.

“We aim to start with one or two licences and build from there,” said West 175 chairman/ceo John McEwan. “With the major ITV companies reducing their local output, there is an opportunity for a company totally committed to truly local broadcasting, and we believe the need and potential for strong local programming has never been greater.”

The Independent Television Commission first offered the licenses to bidders in 1997. They allow free-to-air terrestrial broadcasts in various towns and cities across Britain.

Although it is unknown which licenses West 175 is looking at, McEwen dropped a few hints: “We are particularly attracted by regions in the UK that have a strong local culture, perhaps a university or polytechnic town, which feels that their local identity is not adequately served by the mainstream.”

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); West 175; additional content by WARC staff