''Ofcom has delayed a decision on awarding all the remaining local TV licences and now expects to wrap up the process by the end of February, meaning a likely three-month delay for an announcement on the lucrative London franchise. This delay means the local TV licence for the London area, which caters for 4.3 million homes, is expected to be awarded by the end of February. The five London bidders had been told informally by Ofcom to expect a decision in November.
Ofcom said the delay had nothing to do with problems over the Nottingham and Sheffield licences which emerged last week.
Local TV licences for both cities were awarded and then withdrawn after "errors" were found in the consideration of the applications by Ofcom. Eventually the original winners – SLTV Sheffield Live and a consortium backed by former ITV News editor Nigel Dacre's company Inclusive Digital called Notts TV – were re-awarded their licences on Thursday.
An Ofcom spokesman said some of the bidders in the 11 franchises which have so far been awarded have already been asked to clarify their programming plans, so it was decided to ask for an across-the-board clarification from the remaining bidders before they are formally considered by a panel which is chaired by the former BBC and Channel 4 executive Tim Gardam.
This means the Newcastle bid is likely to be decided by the end of December, with Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester by the end of January. The Leeds, Liverpool, London and Preston bids are now scheduled to be awarded by the end of February.''