Falkirk telly debate

New Local TV is an option
New Local TV is an option

Would a local television channel end up being Falkirk’s answer to “Dave” or would it provide quality programming?

That was the question facing members of Falkirk Council’s leisure, tourism and community committee on Tuesday as they discussed the possibility of Falkirk having its own television station.

The town was recently named as one of 65 locations throughout the UK - and one of nine in Scotland - shortlisted as having the capability to broadcast its own programmes.

Councillor Tom Coleman feared the station would be a local version of satellite channel “Dave”, which mainly shows repeats of old BBC programmes.

He said: “There is insufficient advertising revenue in the area as it has to be able to maintain a television station which would cost £250,000 a week.

“This won’t be public service broadcasting, it will inevitability be full of junk and there is enough junk on television already.”

The report stated the creation of a local television service would bring benefits to the Falkirk Council area - with the potential to broadcast distinctive content reflecting the heritage of the area and providing local information to local people.

However, there were concerns about commercial viability, since the model set out by the UK Government is based on a commercial model and most costs being met by advertising.

Committee convener Adrian Mahoney said: “We see the world through Edinburgh and Glasgow eyes, so local television could be good for Falkirk. There are opportunities here, but also some real concerns.”

Councillor Malcolm Nicol said a local television station could be “pie in the sky” and was bound to have an adverse impact on existing media - namely The Falkirk Herald and Central FM.

He said: “This would be a commercial concern and people will only take an interest if there is a potential to make money.

“Quite frankly, people are not going to tune in to watch local council committees - they want to see the kind of programmes that are on the 400 or so channels we have already.

“If someone comes forward with they right ideas, the right programmes and plenty of money to make it all happen, then good luck to them.”

One member excited about a local station was Councillor Billy Buchanan, seeing it as a way to bring the eyes of the world to Falkirk.

He said: “It would enhance the area and I would say we would be looking at a global audience - someone from Botswana looking at a programme about Bonnybridge Toll.”

Councillor John McNally said the views of The Falkirk Herald and Central FM should be sought before any response is presented to the department for culture, media and sport.