Thursday, 19 February 2009

The end of regional TV as we know it

Down here in the south west we have been very lucky to have had a choice between a vibrant commercial TV station attending to our regional interests and the BBC with a degree of local output. However, sadly, things are changing - 'Westcountry' TV is no longer producing its respected news programmes from Plymouth, instead those on Channel 3 now get a much reduced local helping of news as part of a programme covering a much wider ITV area based on Bristol. It's all down to lack of advertising revenue apparently, even without the effect of the recession. No disrespect to Bristol but to locals here that is much too far away to give a feeling of relevance to those living in this long peninsula. Of course the commercial environment now is very different to when ITV kicked off all those years ago; who would have believed when TV with adverts started that we would have the vast plethora of channels around today not to mention the internet as well.

Cross in Plymouth. Our first local ITV station, initiated by Peter Cadbury, was 'Westward TV'. They eventually lost their franchise to TSW (or TelevisionSouthWest if you want the full name) and there were mutterings about it just wouldn't be the same as the much loved 'Westward'. However these fears were unfounded, the changeover was fairly seamless with many of the familiar faces still in post and if memory serves me right TSW operated out of the old Westward studios at DerrysTSW were superseded in turn by 'Westcountry TV' and this time there were some notable changes: gone were the continuity announcers on screen, instead there were just voice overs, gone too was 'Gus Honeybun', the children's favourite rabbit who was often asked to do 'bunny hops' for their birthdays. One interesting innovation at that time however was the introduction of what one might call mini news bulletins from smaller studios in the counties covering much more local areas as part of the regional news programme.

This is all history now, sad I know, but we are still in the Communications Revolution and who knows what changes are still to come.

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