'Enthusiasm' for local TV, says Jeremy Hunt

UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt says he is confident there will be enough interest to sustain a network of local TV stations across Wales.

He spoke in Newport after earlier this month revealing 11 areas that could pioneer local TV services in Wales.

Those able to bid for licences included Cardiff, also covering Bridgend and Newport; Mold, including Denbigh and Ruthin; and Swansea with Llanelli.

Bangor, Carmarthen and Haverfordwest can also bid.

Some in the media sector have questioned whether sufficient advertising revenue could be generated to sustain the stations.

After hosting the Newport summit to explain how local TV could benefit communities, Mr Hunt told BBC Wales: "People are absolutely passionate about their local communities, and frankly this has been one of the big gaps.

"We have very popular local radio stations, local newspapers, but this is a multi-media age and it's crazy that we can have local information on our iPods but not on our TVs.

"Everywhere I've been there is a lot of enthusiasm, and I'm pretty confident we will have some very good people putting forward for the new licences."

He said some local TV stations could broadcast in Welsh, although he ruled out statutory obligations to force them to do so.

The Newport event was attended by potential bidders, media companies and politicians.

Mr Hunt also met a group of protesters from Welsh language pressure group Cymdeithas yr Iaith.

He told them S4C's funding had been protected for four years.

The protesters said the channel was being unfairly targeted for spending cuts.

The cost of running a local TV station would be similar to the cost of running a local newspaper, Mr Hunt said, adding that the new stations could be run by volunteers.

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