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June 18, 2014updated 25 Jun 2014 4:38pm

Jeremy Hunt hits out at Westminster media over coverage of ‘yokel’ local TV stations

By William Turvill

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured, Reuters) has defended the local TV policy he fronted when Culture Secretary and criticised the “Westminster media” for writing stations off.

Hunt, who was culture secretary between May 2010 and September 2012, first outlined proposals for a network of local TV channels in January 2011 before inviting media operators to bid for the right to broadcast in cities across the country.

Speaking to journalists yesterday, the Financial Times reports him as saying: “There is a great desire in the Westminster media world to write off ‘local yokel stations'…

“If New York can manage six local TV stations the idea that London cannot sustain one is bonkers, despite the desire of competitors to rubbish it.”

Asked by journalists what his favourite programme on the Lebedev-owned London Live was he replied “the news”, according to the FT.

The FT says he added: “All these local TV stations will be a success… There will be some that go bust, that is the nature of things.”

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So far, four local TV stations have launched – in London, Nottingham, Grimsby and Norwich.

Last year, former Labour culture secretary Ben Bradshaw said he believed local TV would be a “flop”.

“This was an obsession of Jeremy Hunt’s at the time,” he told Press Gazette.

“Even his independent review came back and said it was a waste of money – it will never work."

“But as it was his only idea he went ahead and pushed it. We’ll have to see what happens.”

In April, London Live managing director Andrew Mullins defended London Live after criticism of viewing figures which showed some programmes were being watched by a few thousand viewers.

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