The BBC has outlined plans for local television news to serve individual cities and counties in the UK, starting with a pilot to cover five areas of the West Midlands.
The service will be available through an interactive application on satellite television, together with on-demand bulletins on other platforms.
“They will be as local as our radio services, serving individual cities, conurbations and counties,” said Mark Thompson, the BBC director general, speaking at an engagement in Birmingham.
Satellite viewers will be able to see the bulletins at fixed points within each hour, accessed through the red button on their remote control.
The same regularly updated sequences, up to ten minutes long, will also be available instantly on demand: on the internet, on broadband television, or even mobile phones.
The aim is to create a new model of local television, based on news and information, in partnership with the community, working with the public, private and voluntary sectors to build and sustain the service.
The pilots will run in Herefordshire and Worcestershire; Stoke and Staffordshire; Shropshire; Coventry and Warwickshire; and the Birmingham area.
The pilot scheme will be assessed for its market impact, and subject to these tests and a formal review by the BBC Governors, the BBC then hopes to introduce around 60 similar services across the UK.
To deliver all 60 bulletins by satellite on a similar model would require 12 television channels, which could be reduced to 4 by limiting the service to a quarter screen. Even then, each ten minute bulletin would only be shown once an hour.
However, in the future local bulletins could be recorded through a personal video recorder, and cable and new broadband television platforms may ultimately make the bulletins available on demand. When analogue television is eventually switched off, local digital terrestrial television could even be a possibility.
The concept of the on-demand local television news service was first outlined in the BBC manifesto Building Public Value in June 2004, having been previewed by Ashley Highfield at the International Broadcasting Conference the previous year.