OFCOM and Community TV Trust|
For Ofcom's Digital Dividend Review CTVT submitted the following response on the closing day, Tuesday 20th March 2007.
Email Chris Haydon for further information.
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Response from Community TV Trust [CTVT]
to Ofcom’s Consultation on the Digital Dividend.
BEYOND THE MAINSTREAM
Ofcom in this phase of DSO has evidenced detailed research. Community TV Trust [CTVT] is making this response chiefly on behalf of the broadband sector of community media but also as an organisation interested and experienced in TV production at both professional and community levels. CTVT sees a valuable and achievable relationship between on the one hand local TV in the broadcast model, and on the other hand community media practice via broadband delivery. Through its work it now believes that communities, especially in metropolitan areas, are served best when WEB-EVENT-TV all overlap. The issue of local TV is integral to the wellbeing of community and to the activation and self esteem of the citizen.
The community media sector faces a fundamental lack of possibility in the proposed market-led auction of spectrum and, inevitably, relatively low importance will attach to players from the community media sector in this consultation. This flows from value not Value. This document is not therefore submitted with any confidence that its views will be held as necessarily of value but continues in that hope. For does not Economy gain if the Individual is confident and engaged in his/her local life ?
As the paradigm shifts and we discover what it is that the general population grows to expect from the array of opportunities supplied by new technology, it is urged that policymakers formally consult those of us working directly with the Ordinary Citizen in matters of local media, media literacy, media voice and production skills. Public service in the context of media has been redefined and inhabits the multimedia world of non-linear delivery via the internet. As such it has evolved into Public Service Media. However there is a powerful relationship between the two spheres of broadband and broadcast media.
Some in Ofcom – Steve Perkins and John Glover for example - are now aware of CTVT’s “3% Proposal” for working with PSP: this generates up to sixty local media projects across the country, of the “Southwark.TV” [www.southwark.tv] type. We see these in turn producing local TV programming for the PSP schedule. CTVT itself contributed ten hours of original programmes to Community Channel in a single year (2005) – there were a considerable number of repeats and the total transmitted hours for the Channel would be between forty and fifty. Now, if the cost of one hour of PSP television could fund a borough-wide or town-wide media project for one year in the “Southwark.TV” model – would this not warrant consideration ? Does this not support the assertion that the two spheres of broadband and broadcast media do in fact have a powerful relationship in community ? Local TV has Value.
CTVT’s Response is framed within this context. At its heart lies the notion of value, which is perhaps better written as Value. Ofcom uses the phrase ‘broader social value’ to carry much of what it sees lying beyond the reach of market-led arguments. What is clear in community media is its potential. CTVT found a degree of blurring of issues with regard to optimal social usage of spectrum by Ofcom and is concerned that, in real terms, value/Value is reduced to the status of being merely a factor in market-led thinking rather than being the Goal to which all might strive. For this reason, we respond with a broad argument that:
- supports local TV
- questions Ofcom’s decision to run with market-led principles
- suggests an ‘add/drop’ mix of intervention, where useful, in pursuit of the Goal
- incorporates our belief in the role of community media, both broadband and broadcast (national/local) TV, to enhance and realise the potential of society and the individual citizen
This broad argument is encapsulated in Para 6.122 of the main DDR document in which Ofcom reports on its market research identifying that local TV services can bring value beyond consumption … it all flows from there. Awareness, engagement, self esteem.
Para 6.123 of the main document reports the comment that local content be ‘not too local’.
This is a curious comment when regional and subregional TV programming is not much in evidence. This perspective also points up the value of combining broadband with broadcast delivery of local media, with websites functioning as ‘local’ as you like and broadcast TV programmes being given (if judged necessary) broader relevance to a TV audience.
If we are not simply going to serve shareholders but serve citizens as well, we must address them as more than consumers. For that is how it is. That is who they are. Every citizen in the UK is now by right a producer as well as a consumer of media. To hear voices from community and community media practice, at length and in detail, in this consultation round and the next, will complete Ofcom’s consideration of media production and consumption.
In this brave new world of (UHF) spectrum for local/national/global media, there are key questions arising from Ofcom’s deliberations:
1 do the two axes of bad regulation and market forces cover all the arguments governing media training and facilitation for UK citizens, and media management for the nation’s culture ? CTVT believes not.
2 If we ease regulatory methods and liberate the market, has the citizen been truly served ? CTVT says no.
3 What if intervention yielded identifiable benefits to citizens, to which practitioners of community media would lay claim ? Intervention supporting local TV would happen and, in proportion, would be welcomed by CTVT.
4 In considering ‘self generated content’, it is not adequate to cite YouTube and MySpace which are global services. “Southwark.TV” for instance is a vibrant local service indicating how media has another role to play other than promote work to the widest audience. Please visit www.southwark.tv
5 Is there value in the constant and restless pursuit of optimal technology ? Ofcom itself hesitates about the coming world of HD which is both expensive and a heavy user of spectrum. It also means an unwelcome but probably inevitable need to re-equip, yet again … and may well force out smaller players who could make excellent use of spectrum, especially for broader social gain.
If we consider citizens as media consumers, then PSP is vastly more important than enabling yet more bundles of commercially driven digital channels to flood across our already saturated media landscape; and if we take our citizens to be media producers as of right, then is it not our bounden duty to educate them, facilitate learning and media literacy, continue the spread of access radio, support local TV wherever spectrum is available, and encourage use of broadband and the local internet delivery of locally produced media ?
In all the work undertaken by Community TV Trust [CTVT] we have found it axiomatic of community media that education is implicit. In the case of CTVT education is delivered in the form of ‘soft learning’, informally, through practical experience, and commitment to goals set and agreed – whether individually or as part of a team.
BARRED FROM THE AUCTION
Community media will not find the means to participate in a ‘market forces’ auction of the Digital Dividend spectrum. That is the very real worry. Yet community media has Value and as its practitioners regularly testify it has the potential to change lives by enhancing self confidence and self esteem, in addition to spreading basic skills and giving the experience of purposeful team work. Participation in local media opens up new relationships in the area that matters most – namely, where the individual lives their life.
All of the above is beyond the mainstream.
Life makes sense of media when media overlaps with life.
Media is not life. Life is not media.
OPTIMAL USE OF SPECTRUM
So to the question: how may Ofcom find optimal use of spectrum to further the interests of citizens and consumers ? And how does this goal square with the other objective (5.9 [main document]) of promoting ‘competition by increasing the availability of spectrum for use in the most valuable* services’ ? [*our italics] What is meant here by ‘valuable’ ?
The main DDR document celebrates releasing, liberating and trading spectrum, all of which
serves the consumer, but what of the citizen and the considerable population of media producers ? Does this monetary heaven serve their needs and aspirations ?
The self-evident fact that there is insufficient money in the community media sector to enable it to compete for spectrum at auction triggers a clear need: the need, CTVT suggests, is for relationship. The potential partners for new spectrum-related relationship line up as follows:
Government alias DCMS/DfES/DoH/DTI/Treasury
Community media sector / local practitioners
Does the Government and Ofcom’s market-led approach attach Value to the enhancement of the individual on levels of self confidence and self esteem ? Social and economic benefits flow naturally from the acquisition of these two qualities. They are a force for change and for change for the good.
CTVT concludes that the balance between ‘private value’ and ‘external value’ – to quote diagram 4.1 on page 48 of the main document – necessitates the formal serving of all broader social values identified in that diagram, namely, again to quote the main document:
Access and inclusion
Quality of life
Belonging to a community
By arguing for the abstract Values of quality of life, cultural understanding and belonging to a community, Ofcom has shown its awareness of these fundamentals. All flows from the careful placing of these foundation stones. Belonging to a community is underlined as a priority with 48% of Ofcom’s population sample ranking local TV second in importance nationally and to themselves as individuals, behind only the creation of further DTT channels and well ahead of HDTV, mobile broadband and mobile TV. Given the impoverished nature of current local media, that says much in favour of local TV and the community media lobby.
HEART OF THE MATTER
Paragraphs 6.124-6.126 of the main document argue for and then against local TV. In a three-move gambit black attempts to outmanoeuvre white.
Before we are consumers we are citizens. Before that we are souls on a journey. We do not take our money with us or our material goods. We take something else. That is why value may also be Value and why Para 6.124 is a nightmare. It starts with a plain admission that significant value to us as citizens, as distinct from us as consumers, is available via local television services; the second half (and second sentence) of the paragraph is framed with forceful negativity against the proposition rather than seeking support for it. One detects a mindset here hunting justification for the auction on which sights have been set.
Para 6.125 then argues strongly against local television, just in case we didn’t get the point in the previous paragraph. The trouble is it uses the vaguest of arguments, outlined in Para 6.126, connected to flexibility, efficiency and fear of getting things wrong. Well, if fear rules your life you are sunk. If our regulator is fearful of making mistakes we can rule out creative thinking and vision.
For in the end what, one asks, could be more efficient than empowering producer-consumer citizens who come into contact with local media ? Would one not think this worthwhile - to the point of acting upon this observation ?
In short, what is called for here is a mix of liberal thinking and intervention. Ofcom one understands may be hampered to an extent by Government favouring market forces, but ...
CTVT ENDORSES LOCAL TV
Community TV Trust therefore strongly urges Ofcom to support local TV to whatever extent is achievable. CTVT urges Ofcom to promote the primacy of the Ordinary Citizen as producer in at least equal measure to the ‘citizen consumer’. If as stated in 1.37 ‘the level of actual commitment to watching’ local TV is not clear, this is not surprising given that we are only on the edge of a new culture. One must also weigh the Value to the individual of participation in the production of a locally made film or other item of local relevance. People transform their lives by seeing through to completion their participation in such endeavours. They are breaking boundaries. They are in new territory, on their journey. (See anecdotal evidence below)
CTVT hesitates over HD. From the point of view of the community practitioner and now potential spectrum user, HD is greedy for cash and for spectrum, neither helpful nor realistic.
In the Executive Summary 1.4 Ofcom seeks ‘to ensure that the use of spectrum brings as many benefits as possible to the UK’s citizens and consumers’. In 1.22 Ofcom allows that this Objective be achievable ‘over time’, which sits well with the notion of education as an integral component of community media and with serving citizens as both consumers and producers.
Uncertainty plays a large role in this consultation, for example in 4.119 [main document] regarding economic modelling and 4.131 [main document] regarding future value of the use of spectrum. Ofcom sees uncertainty as ‘inherent in fast-moving markets (1.32)’; there are issues of ‘technical feasibility’ which are uncertain (1.34); and (1.43) ‘we have found as much uncertainty about the extent to which the digital dividend might bring broader value to society as we did in any other issue’. The latter observation does not mean it is not there.
From the perspective of community media practitioner, with a substantial career background in broadcast TV, I can say that there is no uncertainty. Local media practice and local media supply is of immense Value to society. New relationships are generated across community, new skills are acquired, an expanded sense of self follows which leads to greater self confidence and self esteem. From self esteem all flows. Principal beneficiaries of self esteem are Society (community cohesion) and the economy.
Point 4.132 [main document] which addresses external value and claims that it will be relatively small compared with producer and consumer value would appear to be specious by seeking to compare Value of ‘externals’, such as cultural understanding and belonging to a community, with the value of hard cash profit margins achieved by a commercial media producer. Or are we misunderstanding the terminology ?
In Figure 4.5 Ofcom (page 56 [main document]) identifies six scenarios illustrating combinations of use of spectrum in all of which local TV comes by some way last – this despite coming a powerful second place when ranked in importance against other likely uses. Is this Ofcom being proportionate in its activities ? Is there not a case here for targeting regulation where it is needed ? (cf. 6.12)
Given uncertainty exists and that issues are complex, CTVT does not find Ofcom’s arguments and estimations via economic modelling to be compelling. Where it remains difficult if not impossible to quantify value, it is not difficult to identify Value. Finally, where there is uncertainty over the level of coverage achievable for local TV via DTT, mixing and matching with broadband delivery will easily maximise reach and makes strategic and logistical sense.
“SOUTHWARK.TV” – ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE
In and for Southwark we have developed “Southwark.TV” [www.southwark.tv], an open-access community media venture, and over the four years of its life have identified the Southwark Template, mixing broadband/web coverage of the area with occasional TV production and live events. This has given “Southwark.TV” a growing presence and role in the community. Thus the Southwark Template of ‘WEB-EVENT-TV’ represents in our view a mature, realistic and achievable media blend of accessible community tools and confirms the strategic importance of local TV in this mix. (see below re ‘SOUTHWARK HOUR’)
For specific strengths in the “Southwark.TV” model, let me cite three brief anecdotes from my time in community media that will express something of its enormous power:
ANECDOTE 1 – OVERCOMING FEAR
Last October’s inaugural Southwark.TV Festival of Film & Photography was organised for the benefit of local mental health groups. One artist who exhibited work told me that before attending training workshops she was unable to speak to people but now she expresses herself freely, produces professional standard photographs and memorable films and, she said, had even walked up to Simon Hughes MP in the street to urge him to come and see the work.
ANECDOTE 2 – FINDING THE SPARK
I ran a project in West Cornwall at a secondary school with a group of semi-excluded pupils, one of whom was failing academically and never wrote anything. She was inspired by the freedom and possibilities of our media work and staff could not stop her writing.
ANECDOTE 3 – MEDIA TRAINING
A group of no-nonsense middle aged women at a Bermondsey housing estate drop-in centre had a tremendous time, picking up cameras, trying acting and presenting, attending and directing editing, one producing a satirical script on Council recycling schemes that they now propose to film. These excellent women attended the screening session of films made by a second group, all of whom were involved in running local groups and all coincidentally black. One woman from the first group suddenly said to the gathering: “If you had said a year ago that I would be sitting in this room with a bunch of black people I wouldn’t have believed you. Forgive me, it’s in my upbringing, Bermondsey you know.” The area is known for Right Wing leanings and BNP membership. This feisty soul, a natural in front of camera, had experienced nothing short of a personal paradigm shift over the course of four months.
That is what in my view indicates the limitations of media when governed by Money and Audience (size of). If you throw away these two pillars of the mainstream, you begin to see what is contained within the sphere of Community Media. Envisage an individual attending a series of video workshops and seeing something through to its conclusion, something that perhaps they would never normally have done or thought of doing … they roll up their sleeves, throw themselves into the experience, and in a team help to create something from nothing. For the individual, a personal transformation will have taken place. So it was for the Bermondsey woman whose testimony stopped me in my tracks and struck everyone present with its painful honesty, its blazing truth in a society too concerned with political correctness. Not there. Not her. Turbulent soul maybe, but she spoke her mind which revealed itself to us as being open to change and to the possibilities of self awareness.
I had always claimed these goals and here was a clear and splendid example.
It should be understood how this underpins the assertions of the Southwark Template – WEB-EVENT-TV – as a mechanism for individual growth and consequent social cohesion. No surprise then that the first sentence of Para 6.124 was a joy to read:
“Local television services could provide significant value to us as citizens …”
Ofcom is urged not to relinquish its responsibilities to the nation’s culture and consider proportionate intervention. There is a cause worthy of this – local media/local TV.
Para 6.14 outlines three issues for consideration with regard to market-led management of spectrum. There is a fourth: community opportunity. CTVT contends that defining what is ‘socially optimal’ cannot be done solely through monetary considerations. The ‘existence of externalities’ or broader social values (as Ofcom itself acknowledged) flattens this approach.
MARKET CHANGES/SOUTHWARK HOUR
Let us say that one year a community organisation delivers TV programmes to a broadcaster asking to take five of them, that the broadcaster finds them suitable and persuades the organisation to make a second series, transmits therefore ten of them over the course of a year, repeating some editions of the series a number of times. Let us say that the broadcaster pays nothing for these programmes but fills airtime nonetheless by several multiples of ten hours. This is a fine arrangement for one party, a poor arrangement for the other though not without Value.
This is precisely what happened to Community TV Trust in 2005 with its series entitled SOUTHWARK HOUR. We produced ten editions featuring local people and their films, local issues and a local non-broadcast production team led by myself, the one member of the team with experience of broadcast television. I worked as (series) producer/director, typically for Granada TV and C4, before setting up CTVT in 1998.
At present the TV market for community organisations able to deliver broadcast quality media is extremely limited and it would appear that the Community Channel has now altered course. Having met the production challenges of 2005, I opted to stand down CTVT’s commitment to unfunded TV production during 2006. I was extremely disappointed that not once during the year did the Channel contact us with comment on what we had achieved/delivered with SOUTHWARK HOUR or with any questions concerning our future plans. The Channel is in new hands and one feels the style & budget bar is being raised … if there is a production budget, it has not been offered in our direction.
The point of this tale is to underline the Value to communities of local TV, even where a local organisation favours, as does CTVT, the broadband option for grass roots, everyday, low cost coverage of its area. If we had access to a broadcast TV ‘station’ whose ethos was genuinely to serve the community, I believe CTVT would have been encouraged to return to production. After all, two individuals – one a researcher, the other a video editor – moved from their volunteering with CTVT into London’s TV production sector. Such activities as SOUTHWARK HOUR serve individuals and communities in a variety of ways. To the list of skills, team work, media literacy, self confidence and self esteem, one may add volunteering opportunities for media professionals and employment. Not a bad roll call. It is for these reasons that Community TV Trust is so enthusiastic about its “3% Proposal” to work with PSP.
The larger picture behind the proposed auction of spectrum is more complicated and at the same time perfectly clear. From where CTVT stands, surveying the vistas of local relationships, individual achievements and commitment, personal transformations one has witnessed, burgeoning creativity, honing of higher level production skills, the role of Ofcom is defined; ‘socially optimal’ is also defined.
One edition of SOUTHWARK HOUR brought together five young black teenage males from a Peckham Pupil Referral Unit, and DAC Brian Paddick (ex-Lambeth Borough Commander). They took him round a local estate and talked with him about the quality of life they lead and can expect. Paddick, a philosophy scholar, is a thoughtful man and was plainly given plenty of food for thought. He said as much and left with an enhanced understanding of the matrix of social issues confronting these boys, from peer pressure to fashion to bullying to job hunting to fear to perceived harassment by the local police etc.
The above is a good example of local issues with national relevance achievable in local TV. Presumably any broadcaster would welcome this in their schedule. As it happens, not a word was said to us by the Community Channel. And they got it for nothing ! Perhaps therein lies the loss of respect. For the mainstream truly finds the community media sector unsettling and generally treats it poorly. This is the result of our culture in which the one-way street of broadcasting has all the power and perceived glamour, trumpets celebrity and pushes endless violence through news at us. It is time for a change, and the forthcoming auction of ‘digital dividend’ spectrum is a moment when our national culture can shift.
If we pass up this opportunity, the TV audience will continue to migrate away from television and inhabit more and more the terrains of the internet and the computer.
A significant opportunity for cultural expansion and integration is presenting itself but will soon have been lost to market forces.
Community TV Trust
20th March 2007
APPENDIX A -
SOME QUESTIONS ANSWERED & POINTS ADDRESSED
APPENDIX B -
LOCAL TEMPLATE FOR SEEDING “S.TV” MODEL
PSP: CTVT’s 3% PROPOSAL
THE SOUTHWARK TEMPLATE: WEB-EVENT-TV
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SOME QUESTIONS ANSWERED & POINTS ADDRESSED
1 Q5 – CTVT favours intervention in support of local media delivery and practice.
2 Q7 – Yes, there should be transitional protection for professional PMSE users
3 Q9 – Yes, it would be desirable to hold back spectrum for future innovation. Again this is a point warranting intervention.
4 Q10 – Yes, it is desirable to package interleaved spectrum in a way that would be suitable for use by local television services. In an ideal world such use would attract favour and spectrum would be reserved. The market-led approach appears destined to cancel this out and in any case reserving spectrum here is risky given the clear difficulty in attracting commercial funding support into local television. Community related activity warrants grant aid.
5 Q.13 addresses market failure – but by restricting ‘market failure’ to material risks as opposed to risks with broader social implication, such as ‘broader social value’, once again local TV, where Value is clear and attainable, loses out. It was voted into second place behind national DTT interests by Ofcom’s own market research and this deserves to be honoured with firm plans.
6 Q.14 re auction of spectrum – No. Whilst Ofcom is clear that it has no duty to raise money for the Exchequer, it blurs the question of value/Value by opting for auction as the preferred method of disposal/distribution.
7 Q.15 re timing of auction – Yes, the timing proposed for auction is satisfactory on the point of lead time before operation, with local TV stations having up to three years to prepare for service … but this of course assumes we are all somehow in a position to bid in the first place. Does one year’s notice leave sufficient time for the impoverished local media sector to lobby and negotiate networking arrangements/partnerships in order to participate in the auction ?
8 Q.17 re packaging interleaved spectrum – CTVT favours Option One of the two proposed, offering a large number of packages of spectrum consisting of a single interleaved spectrum channel.
9 CTVT, a London-based organisation, deplores the fact that the situation in London is more constrained than elsewhere, leaving the capital city, its communities of potential influence and its communities very much in need of real support, all without the full benefits available to others.
10 Para 9.66 re disaggregating spectrum for local TV use: it is not obvious whether to disaggregate or not since a network channel for local TV supply, programmed to individual areas at set times, would be a workable delivery system for locally made, locally focussed, locally relevant media.
11 Para 10.17 acknowledges the notion of value uncertainty; local TV certainly has this value uncertainty - it is a new service requiring effort to install it in our national culture in a way that deters mainstream media disdain. CTVT notes the BBC’s move towards “ultra local” operation and wishes to record its discomfort with this move. The Giant Corporation with billions of pounds of guaranteed income will distort local relationships. TV did not kill cinema, local media can co-exist with the mainstream; both have their place. The key to local media is that it is not part of something larger.
12 CTVT asks: Will Government bid for a licence that lasts a minimum of five years and possibly for 18 years ? Short-term-ism is the order of the Greasy Pole. Visionary thinking and HM Treasury are not bedfellows.
13 CTVT agrees with non-technical terms of the licences to be awarded.
14 CTVT asks Ofcom to involve interested parties from local TV and broadband media in the second period of consultation with regard to licence terms, draft regulations and technical conditions.
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LOCAL TEMPLATE FOR SEEDING “S.TV” MODEL
With new technology turning citizens into producers, and with spectrum becoming available via the Digital Dividend, the grand opportunity that presents itself for community media and communities would be served by replicating the “Southwark.TV” project as a model of local practice and by observing the Southwark Template as a formula for fully intergrating the project in its community.
Creating local networks such as that in the “Southwark.TV” project will provide a foundation on which a locally focussed new culture of media production can develop. This in turn will feed local TV production and create a new form of media apprenticeship taking people from the amateur worlds of media studies and local filmmaking up to the broadcast TV market.
With the enormous educational and social potential that is wrapped up in community media, funding for the production of local TV programming and the seeding of media training as a formal part of culture in C21st digital Britain are obvious steps to take. If private funding is not forthcoming for the acquisition of local TV spectrum, it is hoped that across a number of Government Departments there will be enough vision to carry the day.
Below are set out the key elements of a broadband-delivered local media project built on the lines of the Southwark Template:
(a) Partnership base (min.12 organisations/schools)
Where “Southwark.TV” itself now has more than fifty organisations and schools signed up to the project, CTVT recommends a minimum working base of 12 local partner organisations with which to establish the practice of replicating the model.
1 x university / FE college
1 x secondary school
2 x primary school
8 x community organisations to include
1 x pensioners, 1 x refugees, 2 x ethnic groups
then from the following
community centre, youth group/forum, performance art group, local statutory group even if funded by local authority, pupil referral unit, etc.
(b) Management Committee
The “Southwark.TV” model is recommended to operate with a management committee comprised of at least six local people from community, education, local residents and media professionals. The quorum might be set at four attendees. Community TV Trust would be available to consult over the appointment of trustees if the local project becomes a charity.
(c) Broadcast Capability
With regard to the lead time required from launching each “S.TV” model before competent media production commences, partners and management are to be assessed for their capacity to produce broadcast quality TV programmes. Allowing up to three months to identify, invite, contract and welcome on board all 12 partners, and allowing for a further three months to coordinate and deliver the initial media training package to each partner group or school, one can anticipate a period of six months for each partner to focus on delivering formally produced media packages, films and potential TV programming.
In relation to Ofcom’s proposed PSP, to Community Channel and to any future network of local programming, one concludes that the production of broadcast quality TV programmes in a modelled project is therefore not likely until months 10 and 11 of Year 1.
(d) Project Director
The person in charge of developing and managing each local “S.TV” organisation needs to offer the following:
Experience of high level media production, preferably broadcast TV/radio
Interest in and working knowledge of web&multimedia including Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premier, Photoshop (Elements), DVD authoring
Experience as media trainer in some or all of the above but must include video editing via either FCPro or Adobe Premier to a competent level
Experience of or readiness for organising, managing and hosting local events such as film nights for project partner groups and schools
Knowledge of the area and preferably residency in it
Enhanced disclosure (CRB)
(e) Project Manager
This person will cover a range of important functions including
Regular liaison with and support for partners
Data collection re partner progress in skills acquisition, goals, needs
(f) Network Weekly Schedule
168 hours in the week / 40 local operators = 4.2 hrs per station per week
168 hours in the week/100 local operators = 1.68 hrs per station per week
One might argue that, for a small station, the task of producing even half an hour per week would be sufficient challenge. Such a station could trade time with a larger outfit who would appreciate the opportunity to broadcast more output.
Running a network of local TV stations is entirely possible with central management to coordinate transmission. One may end up replicating the old ITV regional network at a community level.
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Copy of a letter sent to Head of Public Service Broadcasting Content, Ofcom
PSP - THE COMMUNITY MEDIA PROJECT:
CTVT’s 3% PROPOSAL
Dear Steve Perkins,
I write with a major proposal linked to PSP. We met at the recent LSE Public Connection launch. I am director of Community TV Trust [CTVT] which has created a Template of three-point practice for local media comprising Web, Event and TV. The Template has developed in Southwark where the web element is now three years old:
WEB * “Southwark.TV” [www.southwark.tv]: 500-page open-access website launched in February 2003, with over 50 partner groups and schools who
received training, create (multi)media that they publish on their webspace
EVENT * Southwark.TV Screenings: a programme of local film nights for Southwark.TV partners and local filmmakers of all ages & abilities
TV “SOUTHWARK HOUR”: (2005) locally focussed TV discussion programmes for the Community Channel with locally made films
THE PROPOSAL: 3% of PSP = 60 x Southwark Template
CTVT proposes a 3-year project rolling out up to 60 “Southwark Template” ventures, rural, urban and metropolitan, across the country. With my specialist mix of broadcast TV producer and community media specialist / pioneer, we are positioned to lead this. Furthermore, by tying this proposal to PSP it can be done at zero cost. The phased loan of £9m is equivalent to 3% of the PSP budget, to be repaid in programming. This is a modest claim by ‘community’ on PSP’s public service funding.
Each project will create one one-hour programme for transmission per year. I know this can be done; I have done it. Across 2005, I produced ten one-hour programmes for the Community Channel made for, by and with the people of Southwark and a volunteer production team. Had I concentrated on a single programme, we could have achieved considerable excellence whilst still underpinning local relevance and involvement. There is every reason to be confident of fresh, relevant, well made TV from the new breed of ‘citizen-consumer’: here are trained citizen-producer-consumers, their projects facilitated.
A PSP programme was averaged at £150,000 per hour; “Southwark.TV” ran for a full year with less than that budget. The capacity to run screenings and produce a broadcast quality television programme for PSP’s schedule is there. In a “Southwark Template” year, for the cost of one one-hour PSP programme -
each partner school or group receives free webspace & admin suite training on
managing their CMS website
hundreds of participants from 8 to 80 receive media training, with IT and basic skills passed on via ‘soft’ learning in supported environments;
skills cascade across school and community;
media trainer jobs are offered to local filmmakers & media graduates;
screening events build confidence, encourage networking and social cohesion;
the talented and ‘voiced’ engage in TV production, their work is broadcast;
the media produced is relevant by being local, useful, positive - a public service.
The argument for PSP being linked to community media I see as follows:
1 Podcasting, blogs and citizen’s media means we are all now producers of media if we choose. Technology has democratised the media which is no longer the preserve of professionals. What might community offer ?
2 With training and support, communities can become TV producers. CTVT’s SOUTHWARK HOUR proved this is viable. Participants/filmmakers were from Southwark. Content was locally focussed but of broad interest and relevant.
3 Communicating locally about social, political and cultural issues encourages active citizenship. Local media tends naturally to be positive, relevant and useful; that surely warrants attention.
4 Community media is an important component of Public Service Media (or PSB): it releases people, they learn to link ‘the media they make with the life they are living’. Here is empowerment, engagement and media literacy.
5 Broadband is activating and changing our culture. Statistics show a shift from the old ‘one-way street’ as time on the internet catches up and overtakes TV. “Southwark.TV” is now a broadband model for community media.
6 PSP investment will bear fruit. With PSP funding, the proposed roll-out could certainly create 60 hours of local programming from its 60 projects, leaving no hole in the PSP schedule.
Individuals find their voice. Community talks to community via positive, purposeful media.
This inclusive aim lies beyond the mainstream, yet can feed and speak through it.
Finally Community TV Trust greatly welcomes this opportunity to present its work to you.
Ofcom has the power to create a legacy of unlimited potential and CTVT is ready and able to carry out that work.
I look forward to your response and to the possibility of discussing this further with you and/or your colleagues.
At this stage I have not sent draft budgets and CVs, all of which of course is available for your perusal and discussion.
cc. Tessa Jowell, Secretary of State, Dept of Culture Media & Sport
The SOUTHWARK Template: Web-Event-TV
To summarise what “Southwark.TV” [www.southwark.tv] is and does:
1 it is an open-access, public website; community groups and schools take space on it. They sign a contract for it to indemnify CTVT, are given ID and password and proceed, with training and project support if wanted, to produce and publish media of whatever ilk. Hence 50 partner groups and schools have created a 500-page website that boasts streaming media across the full multimedia range.
2 it serves social and ethnic unity, offers basic skills, encourages active citizenship, leads to personal empowerment and media literacy. The culture of “Southwark.TV” bridges Community and Education.
3 it serves a population of 245,000 residents speaking 100 languages
4 its partner organisations include mental health user groups, seven primary schools, four secondary schools each bringing 1,000 pupils, an FE college, a Pupil Referral Unit, two pensioners’ organisations, young magazine producers, filmmakers, refugee artists, a youth club, community centre, Somali Support Group, a one-man band serving Ivory Coast immigrants, Sierra Leone Community Forum, Volunteer Centre ... and so on.
5 it offers training in how to use the website’s CMS admin suite,which requires no HTML or Dreamweaver skills. Beginners learn keyboard skills and use the internet.
It ‘reaches the hard-to-reach’ and creates ‘pathways to employment’ ...
6 initially it gave equipment grants of £1,500 enabling a group starting out to purchase the ‘local TV kit’ of computer, camcorder and firewire
Monthly film nights have been organised for the benefit of Southwark.TV partner groups
and schools and local filmmakers. These mixed age, mixed ability events were held at a small theatre, the Blue Elephant Theatre, located in amongst Camberwell’s housing estates. Meeting peers and kindred spirits built new confidence and self belief.
In 2005 we produced a monthly TV programme called SOUTHWARK HOUR for the Community Channel. It offered partners and local people a chance to air views, needs, insights, grievances, and to show their films and videos. It was produced by volunteers, both broadcast and non-broadcast practitioners, and was unfunded. For the ambitious and talented, here was an accessible national platform.