Today Comux UK switched on the new UK local TV Network Operations Centre. The NOC becomes fully operational with the launch of Estuary TV in Grimsby, the first local TV licence-holder to broadcast on this digital network. Estuary TV’s schedule kicks off with a local news show at 5:40pm on Channel 8.
Built from scratch in under a year, the NOC provides the infrastructure for local television companies to broadcast on Freeview, across the UK. A further 18 stations across the UK are preparing to go to air before the end of 2014, and an additional 28 are set to launch in the second phase in 2014/15.
Comux Chief Executive, Ed Hall commented: “Today marks a real milestone in the UK broadcasting industry by launching true local TV. To deliver local TV to over 12 million homes we have built one of the most advanced transmission networks in the world with the operations centre based in Birmingham. We believe this model addresses the key challenge that local TV operators have faced in the past - the financial barrier to launching and successfully maintaining a local TV channel. As well as a commercially sustainable and robust solution, we have also now created the potential to provide an attractive return to the licence holders and to the local TV industry as a whole.”
Comux’s business model for sustainable local TV infrastructure is based on local ownership and profit sharing. The multiplex has sufficient capacity to broadcast three channels - one channel will be allocated to local TV licensees and the other two will be sold commercially on a national basis. The profits made by the sale of this capacity will be used to fund the services for local television.
“The facts behind this network build are truly astounding,” said Hall, “From contract to launch has taken just 18 weeks and one day. Over the past five weeks, we have installed over 18km of video cable and more than 6000 metres of network cable capable of sending 385,000 data packets per second out of the Network Operations Centre in Birmingham.”
The transmission and network access for Comux is provided by Arqiva. The network approach enables the Comux multiplex of channels to be broadcast from new custom-designed antennae to local communities. Arqiva also manages the high power transmission equipment on these sites, required to enable local TV reception.
Steve Holebrook, Managing Director of Terrestrial Broadcast at Arqiva, said “The launch of local TV services is a valuable enhancement to the Freeview platform. Arqiva is proud to support Comux to deliver localised content to a large part of the UK population using our network of sites and transmitters.”