Brighton and Hove’s very own television channel will be launched later this month. From local news and sport to comedy, entertainment and a host of magazine shows, the team behind Latest TV is gearing up for the beginning of what could become a historic venture for the city.
BEN LEO spoke to the people behind the project ahead of its launch on August 28.
Lights, camera, action! In three weeks Brighton and Hove takes another giant leap into the modern age with the launch of its dedicated television station, Latest TV.
London’s own local channel has been beset by low viewing figure but bosses hope Brighton and Hove’s version will be different.
On August 28 on Freeview channel 8 and Virgin Media channel 159, the city’s viewers will be able to receive broadcast coverage dedicated to the city.
A 20-strong team of reporters and office based technical crew will produce all the content for the channel using their Manchester Street headquarters.
They will be looking to produce six hours of television to begin with but the channel will run for 24 hours a day every day, using repeated shows.
The team of 12 reporters will make and edit their shows and all the content will be put together in Brighton to be broadcast via the Local TV network transmitting hub in Birmingham.
Latest TV in Brighton and Hove will be one of 25 channels across the country to take to the airwaves following former Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s proposals for new regional stations in 2011.
Across the country around £40 million in funding has come from BBC licence fee money to support the 25 stations.
A total of £15 million was put aside to buy content for three years and £25 million was to cover the start-up costs, including infrastructure.
But, according to some news reports, not all has gone to plan. There are calls for London’s local station, London Live, to have its plug pulled following dismal ratings after only months on air.
Its breakfast show averages 2,400 viewers, including eight individual broadcasts to ‘zero’ viewers, and its 7pm topical programme averages 4,000 viewers. The Argus asked Latest TV’s 65-year-old managing director Bill Smith why Brighton was going to be different.
He said: “My candid view for London Live is this. I think they took the wrong approach and got it wrong.
“Let’s look at the positives of local TV. STV [Scottish Television based in Glasgow] has published figures of half-a-million viewers in one month. It’s sensational. It’s a huge success in Glasgow. Mustard in Norwich is also a big success and Nottingham too.
“Our launch is on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech. And I have a dream for Brighton.
“If anywhere in the world needed a TV station with cool, creative people in it, where would you start? Brighton is the coolest place on earth.”
Initial ratings show local TV in other regions reaching up to one in three adults across the broadcast area.
Latest, spearheaded by Mr Smith, has the mantra ‘You Make It, We Show It’.
The policy invites residents, schools and businesses of Brighton and Hove to become stars of the screen.
As well as news, sport, entertainment and magazine shows produced in-house at the station’s Manchester Street headquarters, Latest bosses are taking advantage of Brighton and Hove’s abundance of creative talent by inviting people to get their work broadcast on television without the task of convincing commissioners.
Mr Smith said: “I had to go to commissioners in London to get my ideas on television. I’ve had to fight battles and I know how difficult it is. You have to hang around Soho House waiting for someone to accept you in their little club.
“But those days are over. Brighton has its own club, it’s better than Soho House and it involves the stars and the non-stars, the Steve Coogans and the David Walliams’, the people who want to be Steve Coogan and David Walliams. That’s what we’re going to create here.
“Don’t get on the train is my message. Come and see me. I’ll get you on TV.
“I believe that TV should be democratic so if it’s good enough, we will soon sign you up. Together we can build a TV and film industry here.”
Latest TV is planning a range of shows from August 28, including International Chef Exchange – a show where local chefs swap places with their foreign counterparts across the world which, according to Mr Smith, “is a class programme that would be easily at home on BBC2 or Channel 4.”
The Cook It! Show is designed for the city’s foodie scene while Latest Homes Live promises to become a “pioneering daily property programme” hosted by Andrew Bullock from Cowboy Builders and Simone Thorogood.
Estate agents will feature in the programme too, which aims to show some homes for sale and let in the area. Construction is also featured, including a look at the i360 project.
The Vote will cover local and national politics and promises live heated debates on key city issues.
Best selling crime writer Peter James will be a regular on the channel as “Mister Crime.”
The station will also pride itself on presenting the first weekly gay magazine programme on British TV. Q Tube, with Latest Torsten Hojer and Steve ‘Jonesy’ Jones, the director of the Shakedown festival, will deliver the best news, reviews, previews and interviews from the LGBT scene.
Andy Nicholls, technical head at Latest TV, is the brains behind Q Tube.
He said: “It’s a chat-magazine show covering LGBT issues, what’s on, local and national news and guests on each show covering various topics. It’s a 30-minute show once a week every Wednesday evening.
“We’re starting off with a one-hour Pride special that covers everything from the parade through to the party in Preston Park. We had about eight cameras at Pride covering all the action so it was a big event for us, a great introduction.
“We’ll cover a lot of what’s going on in Brighton but we want to have it as a more international focused programme too with what’s going on in other countries around the world.
“We’ll cover trans issues, bisexuals, campaigns and activists, gay topics and more. It’s really exciting and we’ll be playing on the fact that Brighton and Hove is the gay capital of the world and proud of it. “People in America and across the world can stream our programmes and also contribute stuff for broadcast too, so it’s a worldwide venture.”
Elsewhere a show dedicated to gaming will be designed to keep the city’s skilful games-console masters entertained and a dedicated film night will ensure movie buffs are not forgotten.
Latest TV is hoping to get the rights to broadcast Brighton and Hove Albion’s under-21 games following news the club will be competing against Premier League teams with its new academy status.
The news, travel and weather will be led by Tim Ridgway.
Mr Ridgway, former local government reporter at The Argus, said: “News will go out at five, six and seven-thirty and a repeat is on at night.
“Brighton is well served with The Argus, BBC Radio Sussex and Juice FM in the mornings.“But you could say we haven’t ever had anything TV wise.
“Areas including Shoreham, Worthing, Southwick and Fishersgate all have their individual character, which is overlooked by regional TV.”
He said the channel will have roving news crews with three cameras each day covering Brighton and Hove and the surrounding area.
“But I’m keen to get across that Latest TV is not here to supplant any media, it’s here to supplement and add to the amazing creative nature that’s already in the city,” Mr Ridgway added.
Latest TV is not just planning to entertain the masses. The station has hired a dedicated education expert to try to ensure youngsters can take advantage of the action too.
Itziar Leighton, head of educational partnerships, revealed plans to work with schools and colleges across the region to offer work experience placements, internships and the chance to get their work broadcast to thousands on television.
She said: “I’ve been to various schools and colleges to get content from students. It’s a mixture of drama, horror film trailers and music videos and it means they can have their own work, or work of friends, on the TV and really get involved in the experience.
She added: “The other part of it is giving them access to real, live, digital media people and experts.”
Ms Leighton added: “We want to offer them work placements, internships and really, what we believe is, you can do the qualification which stands you in a good position but nothing beats the real, live experience.
“Hopefully we’ll develop quite a relationship with them over the years.
“It’s a great platform for them to get paid work in the future and learn about starting their own business and going freelance, which is how the city operates.
- LATEST TV starts on August 28 on Freeview Channel 8 or Virgin Media 159.