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David “Kid” Jensen and former Central presenter Llewella Bailey have been lined up to present the Breakfast Show on Birmingham’s new City TV station. MD Alan Grindley is determined to use the channel to boost Brum’s image, saying “what TV there is here is disgraceful”.

Grindley, who comes to the job with more than 25 years telly experience, insists: “I’m not in it for the money. I want to promote Birmingham and show what a fantastic city it is.

“The fact that we’re on Sky means we’ll be available across Europe, and anything that goes on Sky has the potential to end up on Fox – and we want to get the good news out there.”

He cites as an example the current Rotary Convention at the ICC which has been addressed by the UN Secretary General and attended by 18,000 delegates.

At the moment, City TV is little more than an underground rumble, but it can be expected to become a big noise very soon, especially when the company moves into offices at the heart of the city centre.

Grindley is keeping the exact location close to his chest, but he’s promising a visible presence for the station, with passers-by able to peer in and see presenters in action along with guest celebs.

The channel will be equipped with a small studio capable of hosting live bands, chat shows or even quiz programmes. In this respect, at least, they’ll be one up on the BBC who sacrificed their live studios when they moved from Pebble Mill to the Mailbox.

Traditionally, economies of scale have worked against small city-based operations - at least in the UK – but Grindley (who describes the current local TV offer as “disgraceful”) argues that new technology now makes it viable.

New back pack technology means that Outside Broadcasts are no longer reliant on expensive satellite trucks, and it’s even possible to transmit a live link from a mobile phone.

“It’s not going to cost £20 or £30 million like it would have done 10 years ago” observes Grindley.

As for programming, very little appears to have been set in stone yet, but Grindley and co-director Des Tong feel the entertainment scene has been neglected by local media.

There’s also talk late night Chinese and Bollywood offerings, and a looser feel than either the BBC or ITV currently offer; presenters won’t be chained to their desks, but will be unleashed to roam around an expansive newsroom.

More than anything, it’s the localness that will define City TV.

Jacques De Suze, who created the template for this kind of broadcasting in Canada, is among the directors of the company.

Financial backing is being provided by London-based media lawyer Alexis Grower who has had management interests with Robert Plant, and while the struggles of Channel M in Manchester show that success isn’t guaranteed, we can only hope that City TV will break the mould.

Greater Birmingham is woefully neglected by the major networks, and a channel which can speak to the metropolis without having to defer to Leicester or Nottingham, Stoke or Shrewsbury can only be good thing.

City TV? Bring it on.

See a promo for City TV here


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