A local television licence serving Maidstone and Tonbridge has been awarded to a partnership between KM Group and the University of Kent, Ofcom announced today.
KMTV will provide dedicated local news and entertainment to the county town of Kent and surrounding areas, tapping into KM Group's extensive experience in multimedia broadcasting and the university's expertise and state-of-the-art facilities.
In addition to its portfolio of newspapers, the family-owned publisher operates a network of kmfm radio stations and the UK's fastest-growing digital regional news network, kentonline.co.uk
A partnership between KM Group and the University of Kent has won the TV licence for Maidstone and Tonbridge
The University of Kent's Centre for Journalism has an international reputation for excellence.
It has been ranked first in the UK for journalism in the Guardian's 2015 university guide.
Its head, Professor Tim Luckhurst is a former BBC editor who began his career on Radio 4's Today programme and was a leading member of the team that designed and launched BBC Radio 5 Live.
Professor Luckhurst has extensive experience in television journalism and will serve as head of KMTV's editorial board.
KM Group chairman Geraldine Allinson said she was delighted with Ofcom's decision, adding: "Our existing portfolio encompasses print, digital and radio and we see local television as a natural extension to our publishing activities.
"We believe we are in a strong position to make local television work, as we already have such a strong bond with our readers, listeners and customers.
KM Group chairman Geraldine Allinson
"We know the market intimately and we believe we have a realistic and sustainable business model."
Professor Luckhurst said: "I am thrilled that the University of Kent and the KM Group have won this opportunity to serve the people of Maidstone, Tonbridge and the county of Kent.
"KMTV will allow the university to share its research and to showcase its superb range of arts and science activities.
"As head of the Centre for Journalism I am particularly pleased that it will allow us to produce high quality local TV journalism that will support local communities, enhance local democracy and promote local enterprise. The new channel will also enhance opportunity by offering our excellent students unique opportunities for work experience in a live newsroom"
The winning bid was one of two submitted to Ofcom for the Maidstone and Tonbridge licence.
KM Group editorial director Ian Carter said the company's experience in radio broadcasting put it in a good position to take the step into television.
"We are unique in that we have a team of reporters across the county who are used to gathering audio for our radio bulletins in addition to print and online stories.
"We know the market intimately and we believe we have a realistic and sustainable business model..." - Geraldine Allinson
"Our combined print, radio and online audience is huge - KentOnline reaches an average of 1.3m unique browsers every month alone - giving us a great opportunity to cross-promote our various platforms.
"The partnership with the Centre for Journalism will be crucial to the success of this licence - our journalistic resource coupled with the university's expertise will make for a great team."
Under the terms of the licence, KMTV must launch within two years.
However, KM Group and the university plan to begin work on the project as soon as possible, with the service likely to begin on IPTV ahead of the terrestrial launch, broadcast from a dedicated studio which will be constructed at the university's Medway campus.