A NEW Oxfordshire TV station will be beaming into sets across the county following a successful licence bid.
Broadcasting regulator Ofcom yesterday gave approval to Abingdon-based station That’s Oxford.
The channel will feature Esther Rantzen hosting a weekly light-entertainment show and covering quirky local stories, but despite the familiar names and title, bosses have said there will be no return of the one-time popular BBC show That’s Life!.
About 12 full-time jobs will be created, but a larger staff will be drawn from its broadcast base at Oxford Brookes University and partnership with Abingdon and Witney College, as media students and apprentices will be used to run the schedule.
That’s Oxford was created by Daniel Cass, 38, who ran SIX TV until it went off air in 2009 after 10 years.
The first programmes are not expected to air until 2014, although Mr Cass said his team was setting to work immediately on recruitment and would welcome input from Oxfordshire residents.
He said: “We’re not just recreating SIX TV, or running the same thing we did before, we will be taking it much further.
“Back then the technology wasn’t as advanced as it is now so there is more scope.
“Each evening we will look to have a phone-in show focusing on local issues, and once a week we will have a similar type of show presented by bigger names.
“Esther Rantzen is someone we are so pleased to have on board, and yes we will be focusing on a show about life in Oxfordshire, but no we are not bringing back That’s Life!.
“It will be fun, though, and that will encapsulate the flavour of the channel.
“Our aim is to cover all aspects of life in Oxfordshire, and we are not going to be driven by council press releases, it will be viewer driven.
“We will listen to them and they will shape the broadcasting.”
The station’s potential output could cover an array of subjects from eating out in Oxford, to Asian and Chinese community news, Oxfordshire army chefs in action, and the local music scene.
A parent company has been set up to fund and prop up the station, and That’s Oxford will feature Rantzen and sports TV presenter Jim Rosenthal on its executive board.
The Blackwells family is also involved in the project.
But Mr Cass would not last night be drawn on how much investment had gone into the project.
It beat two rivals, both called Oxford 8, to land the 12-year licence.
Jonathan Marks, of losing bid Princes Risborough-based Oxford 8, expressed sadness at defeat but congratulated That’s Oxford on its success.
Oxfordshire was selected by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in December as one of the 21 pilot areas where local TV would arrive first.
The station would be broadcast from the Beckley transmitter, so it would be picked up in Didcot, Witney, Wantage, Faringdon and Oxford on channel eight.
Due to the way the transmitter is pointed it will not be picked up north of Kidlington.