The digital wires around Swansea have been buzzing with the news that That’s TV is set to take over Bay TV. That’s TV is a local television network in the United Kingdom, and is owned by That’s Media Ltd, which is based at The Flint Glass Works in the Ancoats suburb of Manchester
The company website states that That’s TV is already broadcasting in Lancashire, Manchester, Oxford, Cambridge and the Solent area. Further That’s TV stations are scheduled to launch in 2017.
They state: “That’s TV champions the interests and concerns of its viewers, providing a voice to local people to tell their stories and have their say on issues which matter to them.”
Launched in July 2016 Bay TV struggled to find an audience and a stable local schedule other than their provision of The Today on Bay TV programme, live music from The Pumphouse, a regular news broadcast and more recently The Kev John’s Show.
The station is based at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David Dynevor Campus, De La Beche Street, Swansea and has a Youtube Channel and a website swanseabaytv.com
The original template according to Trinity St David University’s website was described as “Broadcasting from state-of-the-art digital studios at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Swansea Campus, and providing an exciting blend of home-made programming including news, current affairs, sport, motoring, music, together with a great selection of the best of the best of the other 21 UK local TV franchises. The channel will provide a platform for local talent plus advertising opportunities for local businesses to promote their brand and products.”
The initial idea sounded great with Peter Townsend stating “Nowadays, everybody has a video camera on their smart phone and our leading edge digital studio can devour it without the technical problems that plague traditional broadcasters.
“We want this to be your TV station, with content influenced by you. In this modern world everybody can be a TV news reporter. Viewers and local reporters can email us their footage. Message it on Facebook or Skype us live and we will record it on the very latest Tricaster NDI compatible technology from Newtek.
“We will initially broadcast to the communities of Llanelli, Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot but we have a licence from Ofcom for the next 10 years and it is our aspiration to be able to access the Carmel transmitter enabling us to provide services to Carmarthen and South Pembrokeshire when funding becomes available.”
Weeks before its first anniversary, local channel Bay TV Swansea made a request to have its local programme commitments cut. It came at a time when the channel struggled with funding and coverage. It was due to increase its local hours from 17.5 hours a week to 20 hours a week as part of its original licence commitments. But Bay TV had written to Ofcom requesting that its commitments be reduced to 7.5 hours a week.
Bay TV Swansea’s then boss Peter Curtis said the channel had already reduced news content and axed two posts at the station. He also stated that Bay TV Swansea had lost £4,000 in monthly income. In evidence given to the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee back in June 2017 Peter Curtis said that one of the problems was that people in Swansea could not get the channel because of the location of the Kilvey Hill transmitter. He said: “To reach the whole nation you have to be on Sky and you need £120k a year for that.”
Speaking to the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee (Senedd TV) about how he had adapted to reach viewers he said: “We know our viewership is 3 million individual viewers. We don’t have a licence to broadcast round the world. We broadcast on Youtube. We put chunks back on Facebook. I believe online broadcasting is the future of all broadcasting. Wales has a great disadvantage because we don’t have 4G coverage over the whole nation. Given my life again I wouldn’t have done it this way. I don’t think anybody was aware that Facebook would start offering free television to the nation.”
In recent months there has been very little footage from any local news reporters. Some former staff pointed to technical difficulties, machines breaking down or being incorrectly utilised as just some of the problems, which have beset the TV station. Staff using the station as a training opportunity have also left for sunnier climes at the BBC.
A lot of what was promised either morphed into something else or fell by the wayside as staff left the station including Cai Williams (The Voice), Phil Hoyles and Station Manager Peter Curtis. He was replaced recently by Robert Lloyd a former newspaper editor.
Regarding Welsh language content the website info claimed: “Bay TV recognises that the Welsh language is part of the lifeblood of Bay TV’s transmission area and Welsh actor/presenter Chris Coslett Davies will host Newyddion Heddiw Gyda Chris Davies daily and the language will feature regularly reflecting its place in everyday life for the people of South West Wales.”
The Welsh content also appears to have fallen by the wayside as Welsh speaking newsman Carwyn Evans also left the station.
The channel currently does not offer any local content at the weekend in favour of the Talking Pictures simulcast.
It remains to be seen what That’s TV can offer local people by way of relevant local content and what links they will make with hyperlocal news gatherers and in promoting Welsh language content.
Llanelli Online contacted Bay TV requesting a statement on the takeover. We asked if content would remain locally relevant and if we would we see a continuation of focus on local news, local events, local politics, local music and provision of Welsh language content? We also asked what the implications were for staff and if the existing staff team would remain in post?
At the time of publication we had not received a response.