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Below is a copy of a letter sent to Head of Public Service Broadcasting Content, Ofcom, in March 2006. PSP is an Ofcom idea for combatting a scenario in which the fall in advertising revenue for commercial TV companies will diminish their commitment to public service broadcasting. Ofcom is proposing a Public Service Publisher that would plug these future gaps by commissioning programmes to be made for various broadcasters. They postulated a budget of £300m per annum to produce 2,000 hours of television. Community TV Trust proposes to use just 3% of this budget to create up to sixty replica Southwark.TV projects around the country which would in turn produce TV programmes for the PSP schedule.

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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.

Kind regards,


Chris Haydon

cc. Tessa Jowell, Secretary of State, Dept of Culture Media & Sport

www.communitytvtrust.org
www.southwark.tv

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