Islington is in new TV channel blackout zone

Millions of Londoners, including many in parts of Islington, could be left in the dark when a proposed new London TV channel goes on the air.

It is one of 20 local stations the government wants to be up and running in the next two years.

At least six companies are bidding for the licence in what is being seen as the most important media event in the capital for decades.

Yet broadcasting regulator Ofcom is allocating only a Freeview slot transmitted from Crystal Palace on medium-power frequency when the ‘flagship’ station goes live.

According to industry experts, it will only reach a quarter of the capital.

If the signal is transmitted just from Crystal Palace on medium power, the 600mghz frequency that would go out on vacant slot eight will only cover three million homes and many of them are not connected to Freeview.

To add to the problems, residents living around the cluster of North London hills could miss out on the new channel because of transmission problems – and many viewers in the north of Islington are likely to be affected.

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Commercial interests in the industry want the new service to go out through satellite as well to ensure maximum reach.

MP for Islington South and Finsbury, Emily Thornberry, will be writing to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to call for action.

She said: “London has a really distinctive voice and to have a channel directed at London will serve a very valuable purpose. But it’s verging on the ridiculous to set up a channel that large parts of Islington won’t be able to get.

“If you’re going to have a channel for London the whole of London should be able to see it, otherwise it’s just a wasted opportunity.”

The six companies bidding for the licence will present their plans to Ofcom next month.

It is likely that the new station would provide a dedicated news service for Londoners as well as arts and lifestyle programmes, chat shows, phone-ins and discussions, with gaming and shopping channels filling the air time through the off-peak night hours.