Former ITV West head of news Steve Egginton has launched a new internet TV channel, Mendip TV, on the second anniversary of the launch of the Mendip Times, the magazine he started with his former TV planning editor, Mark Adler. The title now has a print run of 18,000.
Egginton said the site showed what could be done on an ultra-local level with the advances in video production and the rollout of broadband.
‘We are about to see a new golden age of local media run by local people, offering services across a variety of platforms, accessed by a broader spread of consumers,’he said.
Egginton, who has been critical of BBC plans for ultra-local news, accused local newspapers of being behind on multimedia opportunities.
‘I’ve been talking to local newspapers who have been totally backwards in not pursuing multimedia,’he said. ‘But going forward, there’s going to be huge opportunities for companies to do multimedia at local level.”
Mendip TV is the culmination of three years’ development work with software specialists to create a interactive video platform. Egginton said the content since launch was a showcase of what could be done with further investment. The team is now looking at selling advertising on the site.
There are currently three members of staff, but the company has applied for a local authority grant which, if awarded, would mean it could hire a videojournalist. The group plans to reach a point where it can employ news journalists for the site as well.
The site’s contents at present are a range of feature-led broadcasts focusing on local events around the Somerset town, but Egginton said that the company had ambitions to become a local news service.
‘We’ll certainly be trying to do a news update, if not every day then a couple of times a week, and if that takes off, then who knows?’he said.
‘We could do a daily news bulletin today if we had the staff. We only launched last week and we’re already getting offers of videos from various local sources.”
The software behind Mendip TV has been developed by Ji-Tu TV and is capable of supporting a complete schedule and archive service.