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Digital shake-up turns off Six TV
OXFORD’S own TV channel has stopped broadcasting just two months before its 10th birthday.
Six TV, which began life in 1999 as the Oxford Channel, ended transmissions earlier this month, after running up losses of £75,000 over the past year.
Its owner, Milestone Group, said it decided to shut the station after it failed to secure a guaranteed digital channel to continue broadcasting from 2011, when analogue TV transmissions in Oxfordshire end.
However, Milestone did not announce it had pulled the plug, leaving viewers puzzled as to why they could not watch the station.
It comes as another blow to local TV news coming just two months after ITV scrapped its Thames Valley Tonight news programme in favour of Meridian Tonight, broadcast from Southampton.
Dan Cass, former manager of Six TV and now a consultant for Milestone, said: “We have ceased to provide our analogue service.
“There’s no real benefit to us to being in a diminishing number of homes that are analogue only.
“It didn’t make sense to us to continue to invest, when the platform was no longer going to be there and we had no guarantee of continuing as a digital channel.
“However, we haven’t given up. We have hopes of providing a new service on digital TV or on Freeview but it’s out of our hands.
“We’re in discussions with Ofcom and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and we hope we’re going to be able to launch a digital service in the future.
“I think it’s a great shame. This is an opportunity that has been lost for local people to work in TV.”
About 40 people worked at the studios, in Woodstock Road, in 2004 but when the channel closed just two full-time staff were left.
Viewer David Stevens, 58, of Hazel Road, Botley said: “I’m sorry it’s gone. It was obviously being run on a shoestring in the past couple of years, as they showed the same thing over and over, but it could have been viable. In a place like Oxford there’s so much going on we should be able to fill a channel.”
Mr Stevens, a church warden, at New Road Baptist Church, added: “To suddenly just pull the plug and not to say anything was not the right way to do this.
“We were just left clueless as to what was happening.”
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