The Minister starts to retreat from a ‘top down’ way of thinking… Jeremy’s beginning to get a taste for looking at a world turned upside down.

Given the amount of ‘column inches’ this blog has devoted to the fate of local ‘TV’ in this country – not to mention the small matter of running our very own conference on said subject – it would be wholly remiss not to pause and ponder the latest ‘briefing’ to be delivered by those-in-the-know within the DCMS.

How we’re not actually going to do a ‘central spine’ after all.

Apparently. That’s on hold.

First we’re going to do the local ‘bits’; and then someone might do a spine. The horse is now in front of the cart; just as long as someone wants a bit of transmitter time. We’re not quite at the wholly mobile future that some lad called Eric has long foreseen.

Mr Schmidt senses there’s something in this video-to-mobile thing; that’s where our world might be head…

Deep in the bowels of OfCom and last year’s ‘feasibility study’, everyone was still working on the basis that the answer to our local news needs will come from out of that box sat in the corner.

Or rather the 250-foot transmitter mast sat atop Winter Hill…

Anyway, on to today’s ‘news’. It is something of a mish-mash; working out just where – exactly – this latest ‘briefing’ is taking us all – other than into the long grass for the forseeable.

There are, however, some lovely lines; not least this notion that the Minister doesn’t now view the world coming from the transmitter down; that in his tour around the country he senses that the world might be turning upside down… A favourite notion in these parts.

‘Jeremy Hunt was very impressed on his recent tour of the country with people really committed to local media who just wanted his help to do their own thing … the whole idea began to feel rather too ‘top down’, it just didn’t feel right for Jeremy’s taste…’

Which might make for slightly uncomfortable reading for anyone who owns a ‘top down’ piece of kit. Like a transmitter mast. Or a print press, for that matter.

Not that it’s wholly bad news for those with a TV box to supply.

‘Now, rather than licensing a network operator for the national spine first, this is now expected to take a back seat to the licensing of local operators based around the use of local geographically interleaved DTT spectrum.

‘Any network to supply shared programming and help sell advertising nationally would only emerge afterwards…’

The ability to sell advertising first locally and only then nationally is something we *might* have an answer to; for now, however, it’s this concept of local ‘operators’ seeking out… ‘the use of local geographically interleaved DTT spectrum.’

Most of the ‘local operators’ I know and recognise in this space would first need to find a dictionary to find out what, exactly, the ‘geographically interleaved DTT spectrum’ was; cos I haven’t got a clue…

… although I suspect it involves this idea that, say, a Richard Jones of fame would look up towards the moors, spot the great transmitter mast beaming out across the breadth of Greater Manchester and would then actively seek out the man who runs said mast and see if he could have a slice of that interleaved spectrum action… 

Or else he will carry on doing what he has been doing. And working with the kids from Oldham College.

And, likewise, the good folk from

They have no interest in seeking out the man who owns the Redruth transmitter. Not when part of their audience is teaching the world to dig for tin for a living and are, therefore, out of range of said transmitter.

In many ways, today’s ‘news’ is a recognition that there is a new world order emerging; that, bit by bit, the world is being re-ordered and re-built from the bottom up, not the top down.

And for those still wedded to this notion that what-was-one-their-audience will meekly accept whatever broadcast – and advertising – crumbs they deign to drop off their lofty table, 2011 is not shaping up to be a good year.

The Minister is starting to look at the world in a wholly different light.

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