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Rivals ready to pounce if City TV misses launch deadline

Alternative bidders for long-awaited local television licence say they are interested in Birmingham project   

Rival bidders for Birmingham's long-awaited local televison licence are set to pounce if City TV fails to meet its early November deadline.

Made Television, which has already been granted TV licences in five UK cities, has revealed it would consider a new application if the City TV project finally crumbles.

Both chief executive Jamie Conway and former Central TV news editor Peter Brookes have confirmed Made TV's interest in the Birmingham licence if it is re-advertised.

The future of City TV, also known as BLTV, is at the centre of growing speculation after Selly Oak MP Steve McCabe raised the issue in the House of Commons amid increasing frustration at the lack of progress since the licence was granted in November 2012.

Minister of State for Culture, Media and Sport Ed Vaizey said last week in reply to Parliamentary questions from the Birmingham MP: "The Birmingham licence was awarded on November 6, 2012, and the licence holder must be on air by November 6, 2014.

"Where a local TV station does not launch within two years, Ofcom's policy is to re-advertise the licence."

Made TV chief executive Jamie Conway said: "I can confirm that Made TV will be looking at filing another application if the licence becomes available."

Peter Brookes, a Central TV veteran and former managing director of Manchester United TV who spearheaded the Made TV bid in Birmingham which eventually lost out to City TV, said: "Birmingham has got to be one of the most attractive licences of the lot because it is Britain's Second City.

"We always thought that Made TV was a very good bid and Ofcom congratulated us on the quality of that bid. If the franchise were to be re-advertised, I am sure that Made TV would be interested."

Mr McCabe told the Post before tabling the Parliamentary questions that Birmingham had been 'short-changed' by the failure of the station – scheduled to broadcast as City 8 on Channel Eight Freeview – to get off the ground.

The move came amid speculation over the future of BLTV chief executive Debra Davis, formerly a £120,000-a-year spin doctor with Birmingham City Council.

Mr McCabe had said: "This is not good enough. Birmingham is being short-changed. Clearly, they have missed their deadline and all there seems to be is radio silence after all this fanfare."

Former ATV presenter Mike Prince, named earlier this year as the Birmingham station's programme controller, is understood to have been trying to drum up financial support for the station in the region.

Ms Davis said last year the station would launch in April this year and subsequently amended the date to September 2014.

A number of local TV stations have launched so far, including London Live and operations in Norwich, Nottingham and Grimsby.

Made TV has been awarded licences in Cardiff, Bristol, Newcastle, Leeds and Middlesbrough. The Cardiff and Bristol stations are due to launch in September followed in October by Leeds and Newcastle.

Ms Davis could not be contacted for comment.

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