That's TV

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That's TV
That's TV logo.png
CountryUnited Kingdom
Broadcast areaBasingstoke,

Cambridge, Carlisle, Grimsby, Guildford, Manchester, Norwich, Oxford, Preston, Reading, Salisbury, Scarborough, Scotland,[Note 1] Southampton, Swansea,

York.
NetworkThat's Television Ltd
HeadquartersThe Flint Glass Works, 64 Jersey Street, Manchester
Programming
Language(s)English
Ownership
OwnerThat's Media Ltd
History
Launched
  • Solent: 26 November 2014
  • Oxfordshire: 17 April 2015
  • Manchester: 31 May 2015
  • Lancashire: 24 August 2015
  • Cambridge: 28 November 2016
  • Thames Valley: 3 May 2017
  • Hampshire: 23 May 2017
  • York: 26 June 2017
  • Salisbury: 19 July 2017
  • Cumbria: 25 July 2017
  • Surrey: 31 July 2017
  • North Yorkshire: 1 August 2017
  • Norfolk: 29 September 2017
  • Swansea Bay: 23 January 2018
  • Lincolnshire: 30 May 2018
  • Scotland: 15 October 2018
Links
Websitewww.thats.tv
Availability
Terrestrial
FreeviewChannel 7/8
(depending on location)
Cable
Virgin MediaChannel 159
(depending on location)

That's TV is a local television network in the United Kingdom, licensed to operate services in several conurbations. That's Television Ltd is owned by That's Media Ltd, which is based at The Flint Glass Works in the Ancoats neighbourhood of Manchester.[1][2]

Services[edit]

As of October 2018, the company operates services in 16 areas.[2][3][4]

History[edit]

In September 2012, the broadcast regulator Ofcom announced That's TV had been awarded a licence to broadcast a local TV service for Oxfordshire.[5] Two months later, the company won a second licence for the Southampton and Portsmouth areas, in conjunction with newspaper publishers Newsquest and Johnston Press.[6] That's Solent began broadcasting on 26 November 2014 while a soft launch of That's Oxford took place on 17 April 2015.

Prior to the launch of the Solent station, That's TV gained a further three licences in the south of England in June 2014 for the Guildford, Reading and Salisbury areas,[7] followed a month later by a Basingstoke licence.[8] In June 2015, a ninth licence was gained to serve the Carlisle area, in partnership with the CN Group.[9]

The local TV licences for the Manchester and Preston/Blackpool areas were initially awarded to YourTV in February 2013, but both services failed to launch within the two-year timeframe permitted by the regulator.[10] That's TV took a controlling stake in YourTV in March 2015[11] with the licences subsequently re-awarded.[12] A soft launch of That's Manchester took place on 31 May 2015, followed by That's Lancashire on 24 August.

The founder of That's TV, Esther Rantzen, became the group's vice president when it opened its first station in Portsmouth and was lined up to present a weekly magazine programme. In May 2015, Rantzen resigned from the company along with former Meridian Broadcasting executive Mary McAnally.[13]

In March 2016, Ofcom placed three of the stations – Manchester, Oxford and Solent – on notice over persistent technical issues.[14]

In October 2016, it was announced That's TV had bought the licence for the York local TV service, formerly held by 'Hello York'.[15] The group also bought out Cambridge TV.

On 2 January 2017, five That's TV stations (Cambridge, Lancashire, Manchester, Oxfordshire, Solent) started to simulcast Talking Pictures TV for six hours each day.[16] In August 2017, That's TV bought Norfolk station Mustard TV.[17]

In May 2018, That's TV agreed to acquire the assets of STV's STV2 channel launching on the 15th of October.[18] In August 2018, That's TV bought Estuary TV's channel slots, covering North and North East Lincolnshire and the rest of the Lincolnshire area.[19]

In July 2019, That's TV announced the closure of 13 of its 20 studios in order to downsize to seven regional production centres producing content for its 20 local stations. The remaining centres were announced as being located in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, York, Cambridge, Salisbury and Swansea.[20]

By 2020, That's TV had become more of a music channel[21], showing blocks of 70s, 80s and 90s music videos throughout the day (when the service was not being using used for home shopping/infomercials). According to official BARB ratings it had become the most viewed music channel on Freeview, beating AATW's channels based on the Now That's What I Call Music brand (Now 70s/Now 80s/Now 90s). On November 12, 2020 That's TV became That’s Christmas[22] and mixed up its music programming, so that Christmas hits (by people like Mariah Carey, Jane McDonald and Mud) would be played alongside 'party classics' from the 70s, 80s or 90s (for example Aqua, ABBA or Los del Río).

Programming[edit]

After being a channel focused on local news and weather, That's TV moved to a more 'networked' schedule with old films and cartoons broadcast during the day and a single news bulletin, shown on a loop during the evening and overnight, produced by each local station. After their deal with classic movie provider Timeless [23] expired, That's TV started to simulcast various TV shopping and reality TV shows before bringing in more music programming in the evening. In November 2020, the newly rebranded That's Christmas was still showing TJC - The Jewellery Channel in the mornings, before broadcasting the "Retro Disco Christmas Party" the rest of the day with local news reduced to a 10 minute slot at 6pm.[24][25][26][27] That's TV also announced an agreement with STV to show all 1,516 episodes of Take the High Road from 2021.[28]

Criticism[edit]

In June 2018, BuzzFeed revealed how That's TV had "gamed" the BBC for hundreds of thousands of pounds of licence fee payers' money. The report also claimed that several of the company's stations had fewer than 30 viewers per day.[29] The same month, the Press Gazette reported that unpaid interns working for That's TV "passed out through exhaustion".[30]

In July 2018, former That's Solent journalist Dale McEwan reported his own experiences of working for the organisation. He listed bullying, exploitation, poor pay and exhausting hours among his concerns. He also revealed that That's Solent sent 1,207 stories to the BBC in year one (November 2014 to November 2015) but the BBC used only 114 (9.4% of stories), equating to a cost of £1,315 per story.[31] The National Union of Journalists in Scotland said it was "deeply concerned" by McEwan's revelations and news that That's TV was launching five stations in Scotland.[32]

In October 2018, McEwan continued his investigations into That's TV. Former That's TV staff members said the BBC was breaking its internal ethics code through its contract with the company.[33] That's TV must adhere to the code as a supplier of video stories to the BBC. As the code states, suppliers “must pay wages sufficient to meet basic needs and to provide some discretionary income”.[34] But That's TV's decision to pay staff the National Minimum Wage on zero-hour contracts and expect them to cover their own large petrol costs means that staff are effectively earning poverty wages.[31] As McEwan found, one former staff member said That's TV director Dan Cass asked them if they would be willing to go from paid to unpaid, but the individual refused. This was one week after the birth of this freelancer's disabled child. A former unpaid intern claimed they could not afford tampons during their work with That's TV. It is claimed that That's TV is therefore breaking the BBC's code on this point.[citation needed]

McEwan wrote another investigative article in October 2018. He found that at least four colleges/universities had asked the local That's TV stations to leave the premises.[35] For example, Queen Mary's College (QMC) in Basingstoke served notice on That's Hampshire in summer 2018 after the BuzzFeed investigation. That's TV did not, however, inform broadcast regulator Ofcom about the station's change of address; the QMC address was still displayed on Ofcom's website months after the station left QMC. McEwan also found evidence suggesting that That's Hampshire staff were sharing the office of That's Thames Valley in Reading. Ofcom said it is a licence condition for all local TV licensees to ensure that the main production base of the licensed service, and/or studio from which the licensed service is broadcast, is located within the licensed area. The regulator confirmed a station's office can be based outside of the licensed area, but prior written consent must be given. Ofcom said consent had not been given to That's TV. Ofcom added that it was investigating and would take action if it found a breach of licence had taken place.

McEwan wrote an investigative article for Private Eye magazine in March 2019 where he revealed that That's TV was refusing to tell the public where stations are broadcasting from.[36] The report explained that That's TV deleted the addresses for its stations across the UK and replaced them with one contact address in a Lancashire business park. Ofcom also said it cannot give any details of where stations broadcast from. A longer version of the article was published by Star and Crescent, where McEwan revealed that the first station to launch – That's Solent in 2014 – had left Highbury College in Portsmouth.[37] The station's whereabouts remain unknown and both That's TV and the college did not comment. Viewers are uncertain if the station is in the Solent area: an observant viewer told McEwan that they saw a Salisbury postal address onscreen during a recent That's Solent news bulletin.

In May 2019, McEwan's investigations found that That's TV wanted to abandon the local communities it is publicly funded to serve.[38] He found that That's TV had submitted plans to Ofcom to run the entire network of 20 local stations from seven studios/main production offices, which Ofcom had provisionally allowed.

When launching his local TV initiative in 2011, Jeremy Hunt, then Culture Secretary, said, "Eight out of 10 consider local news important. Nearly seven out of 10 adults feel localness of stories is more important than them being professionally produced. People in Barnham don’t want to watch what is going on in Southampton. People in Chelmsford aren’t interested in what’s happening in Watford. That is the system we currently have at the moment, so that is what we are trying to rethink."[39]

Ofcom also revealed that it was not taking any action against That's TV for apparent licence breaches.[38] But evidence had previously been found that That's TV had already started operating stations from outside of the local communities. This evidence was found before That's TV submitted its plans for studio/office sharing across the network (for example, That's Hampshire explained above). McEwan also pushed Ofcom for details about where stations were located. Ofcom gave limited details in a Freedom of Information response published in the same article. Six of That's TV's 20 stations already did not have a studio or office in the licensed area. Five licences had an office in the licensed area but used a studio outside of the area to record programmes. That's Solent was one of nine licences that Ofcom believed had a studio in the licensed area. However, in what appeared to be a blunder, a YouTube video showed a That's Solent presenter reading out the station contact details for That's Salisbury during a pre-recorded bulletin on 5 February 2019.[40] The presenter then gave the contact details for That's Solent.

A Freedom of Information reply from Highbury College disclosed that That's Solent left the college in November 2018 by "mutual consent", but did not elaborate further.[38] The letter also showed that That's TV rented premises at Highbury for free during its entire four-year contract. This was despite the broadcaster standing to earn millions of pounds of BBC licence fee funding. That's TV had agreed to offer training opportunities to Highbury students in return for the studio and office space, but former That's Solent employees previously said That's TV was not benefiting Highbury students' education[35]

In July 2019, McEwan continued his investigations after Ofcom officially announced permission for That’s TV to close 13 studios in its network of 20 local TV stations across the UK.[41] That’s TV was allowed to operate from seven regional studios, as predicted by McEwan in his previous report.[38] For example, That’s Solent was now included within a “South of England” hub and would be broadcast from That’s Salisbury’s studio in Salisbury along with the stations for Basingstoke, Guildford, Oxford and Reading. All news shows from these stations were to be hosted by presenters in Salisbury. But McEwan’s previous investigation revealed signs that That’s Solent had already departed from the Solent area and started broadcasting from Salisbury months before Ofcom gave consent for the move. A former That’s Solent journalist, who wished to remain anonymous, described the decision as a “joke”. A source close to That’s TV employees also claimed staff read about nationwide studio closures on news sites rather than being told by management.[41]

Ofcom’s letter of approval to That’s TV said journalists would still be based in the local licensed areas but without physical premises.[42] Ofcom explained That’s TV’s "commitment for journalists and reporters to continue to collect, develop and record interviews on location within the licensed area…" Ofcom believed this meant that the "local presence" of stations like That’s Solent would be “maintained”. The regulator also stated, "That’s TV has confirmed that viewers of the services will not notice any difference in the content broadcast, with news items and interviews still recorded within the licensed area…" But sites like Star & Crescent previously watched That’s Solent news bulletins that aired many stories from outside of the Solent area.[37] For example, the top story in one news bulletin was about Salisbury, with the show also featuring stories from Basingstoke, Newbury and Birmingham. A former employee of another That’s TV station said Ofcom’s claim that viewers would not notice any difference in news content "completely misses the point". They said, "Out of a total of usually six to ten stories (completely depending on video times), three or four are filmed within the station location and the remaining are filmed out with, usually a completely different city. The news programmes [at this station] have always contained news stories from out with the licensed area. This is the same for all over the UK."[41]

In December 2019, Star & Crescent published the following update to its story about the closure of 13 studios in That’s TV’s network of 20 licences:[41] That’s TV chief executive Daniel Cass had previously told BBC News in July 2019: ‘Does it make sense to be investing resources in 20 physical premises where you’re tying up quite a lot of your reporters and journalists in administration and technical work rather than doing what we’re doing going forward, which is freeing them up to spend significant time to be journalists?’[43] This comment referred to That’s TV’s premises across the UK, and implied that the company had, or at least wanted to have, premises for each of its 20 licences. The comment implied that the company, ‘going forward’, wanted to do something different compared to what it had been doing. In the interest of accuracy, Star & Crescent found evidence that this is a misleading comment from Cass. Former That’s TV Scotland freelancers said there was a lack of premises in Scotland, meaning there were not ‘20 physical premises’ for each of the 20 licences. Freelancers said there was only one studio in Scotland, which served all of the five Scottish licences. Freelancers also had to work from home or use WiFi in Costas and Starbucks, or Regus business lounges, in their local areas. This was because, out of the five Scottish licences, Glasgow was the only locality that had a permanent production office. Prior to Cass’ comment to BBC News in July 2019, Ofcom had also confirmed in a freedom of information reply in April 2019 that it had no address details for either production offices or studios in the licensed areas of Aberdeen, Ayr, Dundee and Edinburgh.[44] This also means that That’s TV did not have 20 studios in its network, so the BBC News article was incorrect.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ That's Scotland is made up of five separate licenses for Aberdeen, Ayr, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "THAT'S MEDIA LIMITED – Overview". Companies House. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  2. ^ a b "That's Television". media.info. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  3. ^ "Local TV broadcasters". Ofcom. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  4. ^ "Local Stations". www.thats.tv. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  5. ^ Ofcom awards local TV licences for Birmingham and Oxford, Local TV, 19 September 2012
  6. ^ Ofcom awards local TV licence to Southampton company backed by Johnston Press and Newsquest, Press Gazette, 26 August 2012
  7. ^ Ofcom awards three more local TV licences to That's TV in Guildford, Reading and Salisbury, Press Gazette, 25 June 2014
  8. ^ Ofcom awards Maidstone and Basingstoke local TV licences, OFCOM, 30 July 2014
  9. ^ Ofcom confirms third That’s TV licence in the North West, Prolific North, 18 June 2015
  10. ^ YourTV Manchester in discussions with Ofcom, Prolific North, 5 February 2015
  11. ^ Exclusive: Local TV licences in Manchester and Blackpool & Preston to be rebranded as That’s TV takes control, Prolific North, 5 March 2015
  12. ^ OFCOM grants Manchester local TV licence, a516digital.com, 7 May 2015
  13. ^ That's strife as Esther quits Solent TV, Daily Echo, 22 May 2015
  14. ^ OFCOM Broadcast Bulletin – issue 301
  15. ^ Liverpool local TV service prepares for re-launch, a516digital.com, 3 October 2016
  16. ^ "Talking Pictures TV agrees major distribution deal". TalkingPictures.co.uk. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  17. ^ "Norfolk local TV station Mustard TV broadcasts last show". BBC News. 31 August 2017. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  18. ^ "Struggling STV 2 to be taken off air in online shift". The Drum. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  19. ^ "Estuary TV channel to close". a516digital. 2 August 2018. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  20. ^ "Local TV company to close 13 studios as rival announces 'record' viewership figures". Press Gazette. 12 July 2019. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  21. ^ https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/thats-christmas-channel-to-launch-on-freeview-in-over-5-million-uk-homes-301171959.html
  22. ^ https://www.lancs.live/whats-on/whats-on-news/freeview-tv-channel-dedicated-christmas-19270513
  23. ^ https://tv24.co.uk/p/thats-timeless-dq4dwq
  24. ^ https://tvforum.uk/tvhome/local-tv-presentation-programming-39332/page-368
  25. ^ https://www.prolificnorth.co.uk/news/broadcasting-news/2020/11/thats-tv-rebrands-thats-christmas
  26. ^ https://www.walesonline.co.uk/whats-on/whats-on-news/freeview-tv-channel-dedicated-christmas-19270513
  27. ^ http://www.thats.tv
  28. ^ https://www.prnewswire.co.uk/news-releases/that-s-christmas-channel-to-launch-on-freeview-in-over-5-million-uk-homes-883432528.html
  29. ^ "Revealed: How Britain's Biggest Local TV Company Has "Gamed" The BBC For Licence Fee Payers' Money". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  30. ^ "Interns at BBC-funded local TV company say they passed out through exhaustion – Press Gazette". www.pressgazette.co.uk. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  31. ^ a b "Selling Scotland's local television to That's TV is a travesty". Bella Caledonia. 30 July 2018. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  32. ^ "NUJ voices concern over That's TV". National Union of Journalists. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  33. ^ "Former Employees Call for BBC Investigation of That's Solent TV – Star & Crescent". Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  34. ^ "BBC Code of Ethical Policy" (PDF).
  35. ^ a b "That's Solent TV: Delivering for Portsmouth Students?". Star & Crescent. 24 October 2019. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  36. ^ McEwan, Dale (20 March 2019). "Private Eye magazine article – "Local Difficulties"". Twitter. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  37. ^ a b "How Local is That's Solent? Investigating Publicly-Funded Local TV". Star & Crescent, Portsmouth. 27 March 2019. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  38. ^ a b c d "Will Publicly-Funded That's Solent TV Leave the Region for Good?". Star & Crescent. 15 May 2019. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  39. ^ "Hunt outlines 'local TV' services". 19 January 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  40. ^ superwonderstar (30 March 2019), That's Solent - or is it Salisbury?, retrieved 11 June 2019
  41. ^ a b c d "Publicly-funded That's Solent TV moves 'local' broadcasting to Salisbury". Star & Crescent. 24 July 2019. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
  42. ^ "LDTPS licences consent to certain changes in the location of main production bases and/or studios" (PDF). Ofcom. 8 July 2019.
  43. ^ "Local TV chain That's TV shuts 13 studios". BBC News. 10 July 2019. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  44. ^ "Local TV additional questions FOI" (PDF). Ofcom. 23 April 2019. Retrieved 18 April 2020.

External links[edit]