Users of Peckham Pulse have a fine facility, swimming pool, gym, etc., cafe attached, great central venue. When 8 years ago a petition gathered 800 signatures over one weekend, it was suddenly clear that Fusion, the company managing this resource - and others in the area, was not necessarily doing a top job. Fusion was created out of Southwark Council, it has people on its board who also serve as councillors. This should reassure us that there are checks and balances in place BUT persistence on behalf of the Users Group (designed to feed information to Fusion and the Council about possible improvements to the Pulse and service in general) is showing that accountability is not working. We can reveal that the integrity of the two outstanding individuals who form the Users Group and who have doggedly stuck to the simple task of reporting facts and grumbles to Fusion and the Council has now been called into question. Solicitors' letters are being exchanged, meetings cancelled. Southwark.TV plans to bring to light as much detail as the Users Group feel is useful to their work. Just to begin with: during the eight years of service by the two members of the Pulse User Group, Pulse managers have come and gone at the rate of more than one per year. What does this tell you about Fusion's man-management style? Why can't a fine local amenity keep a manager for more than a year? The decent levels of pay for Council managers might have encouraged them to perform their supervisory work with a high degree of energy and efficiency, on behalf of the public money that is being spent providing the Pulse services. Eight years on, the User Group is raising the same points it started with. And if the Council's monitoring is efficient, what is to be done about the company that delivers this apparently poor service ? Eight years of persistent shortfalls - most of us would have been sacked.
Southwark.TV welcomes contributions from fellow users of Peckham Pulse - anecdotes, incidents, wishes etc. Send in your comments to us at Southwark.TV
QUITE A YEAR
2012 was quite a year for Southwark.TV which is run by Community TV Trust. It is not our usual style to complain but when events turn as they do, sometimes it is as well to speak plainly.
We lost Local Authority support for our edit suite at the Elephant & Castle. The role of media as a tool for engagement and individual growth was greatly enhanced by the provision of this facility whose absence is now emphasised by the loss of a second project: a two-camera studio in Peckham Settlement complete with CCUs, monitors, sound desk, vision mixer, tape deck - an old analogue set up, still working and good for producing short items in the Settlement's main hall - conversation pieces, interviews with local councillors and residents, dance and music events, short scripted dramas. Upon completion of the installation, the interim Chief Executive told us to stop work for the moment ... and 116 years of Peckham Settlement had come to an abrupt end. CTVT lost quite a lot of money; sadly our determination to work despite absence of funds came to nought this time round, as another local amenity bit the dust.
Where next? Well, the new London broadcast television channel, to be found on Button 8 on Freeview will offer new opportunities which we as community practitioners will endeavour to take, whether we are directly involved with running the station or seeking a role as one of the new station's content suppliers.
What Is Community Media ?
Redefining Public Service Broadcasting Recognising Public Service Media
by Chris Haydon Director Community TV Trust
Ofcom have called for submissions to invent a new form of public service media delivery system. They have estimated this service to be worth around £300m per annum.
By my calculations, PSP if captured by Community TV Trust could then create two thousand projects similar to Southwark.TV - each forming creative, educative and supportive relationships with people across their communities.
Instead we are likely to have another production arm of mainstream if slightly alternative media, which incidentally is pitched at about £150,000 per hour.
Southwark.TV which is currently unfunded, could thrive and grow and increase its activity base for a whole year for the cost of one hour of this service.
PSP will make no sense without a strong community element - especially when we all pay over £2 billion for the BBC's public service.
February 2005 -------------
I was giving a talk to students at Southwark College and asked them how they would define what community media is. The answer proved elusive.
We looked at money and ownership - both of which characterise broadcast/grown-up media; we looked at scale of reach; we looked at passivity/one-way streets of media consumption; we looked at regulation and its constrictions or absence ... community media looks well placed to me: it lives without regulation, it lives where and when it wants for whom it wants on whatever scale of operation it wants - whether by radio, internet, localised video distribution and television transmissions (whatever form of technology that may be engaged).
When the next day I read the following extract it underlined what I have felt more and more clearly concerning the importance of community media: that it provides the open air of communication where mainstream lives in structures and power systems. (We might watch closely how the UK Government proceeds with its 'neutral' consultation exercise concerning the BBC and how it may or may not have its Charter renewed in 2006.)
This extract is from a report of a conference held in Geneva at which community media emerged as an issue alongside key issues of social and gubernatorial reform.
WE SEIZE: was the alternative summit event organized by Independent Media Centers' and other information and communication activists from different European communities. While the official summit was held in Palexpo, a sterile convention center entirely isolated and militarized where access was strictly restricted (even those of us with the official badge could not enter the rooms where official discussions were taking place), WE SEIZE was organized in the heart of Geneva, in a communal space entirely open to all. Although the Geneva police tried to shoot down WE SEIZE, the organizers managed to negotiate with the city and organized a series of technology workshops and open discussions around issues such as infowars, the exploitation of information labor, and open source software. WE SEIZE was incredibly inspiring in its inclusiveness, openness, and technological savvy and beauty. Unfortunately the disconnection between Palexpo and WE SEIZE made it very difficult for academics and activists from the Global South to make it to WE SEIZE. Looking toward the future, those of us in contact with the Global South activists and the Indymedia activists in the North should do more to strengthen links between these two collectives. Information about WE SEIZE is here.
The official summit was a mix between a high-end technology market, gubernatorial deliberations, and parallel panels, roundtables, and forums. Among all these, two forums were impressive: The Forum on Communications Rights and The Community Media Forum.
The Forum on Communication Rights was organized by the Communication Rights in the Information Society Campaign (CRIS www.crisinfo.org), the World Association of Christian Communication (WACC http://www.wacc.org.uk/), the Association for Progressive Communcation (APC www.apc.org/english), General Intelligence Group, the Foundation Heinrich Böll (http://www.boell.de/), Panos UK (http://www.panos.org.uk/), People's Communication Charter (http://www.pccharter.net/), and the WSIS' Human Rights Caucus (http://www.iris.sgdg.org/actions/smsi/hr-wsis/). The Forum included panels on communication and poverty, communication and human rights, communication, war and peace, and communication, copyrights and trade. Soon all Forum presentations will be available at www.communicationsrights.org
The Community Media Forum was organized by Bread for All ( www.bfa-ppp.ch), the Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund, (www.fastenopfer.ch), ALER (Asociación Latinoamericana de Educación Radiofónica, www.aler.org.ec), AMARC (Asociación Mundial de Radios Comunitarias www.amarc.org), CAMECO (Concejo de Medios Católicos www.cameco.org), and the Civil Society's Community Media Caucus of the WSIS. (I mention all these organizations because we should keep track of their key role in promoting global and regional mobilization initiatives). From this Forum I came out convinced that despite the incredible potential of recent communication technologies, radio is still the most accessible and therefore most important technology for most people on the planet. I was particularly impressed by the evaluation initiative developed by ERBOL (http://www.erbol.com.bo/) and ALER in Latin America called La Práctica Inspira [Practice that Inspires]. On the basis of 24 case studies plus a comprehensive inventory of community radio in the region, this project reveals when and how community radio contributes to building more democratic, empowered, and fair communities. In January the project will be available in a book and a CD, in Spanish at least.
A tripartite template for community media has emerged in Southwark:
beside WEB, "Southwark.TV" itself which launched in February 2003 and now has more than 50 partners and over 500 webpages, there are EVENTS, from 2004 "Southwark.TV Screenings" bringing local people together to share the experience of each other's media making ... and last year the inaugural 4-day Southwark.TV Festival of Film & Photography; in 2005 there was TV, as CTVT produced two series of SOUTHWARK HOUR, a local TV discussion programme featuring locally made films, broadcast on the Community Channel. Furthermore, TV now means IPTV as well. Technology expands our options. This template underlines that it is the local experience of 'consuming' media that truly "links the media made with the life lived". This is beyond the mainstream.
THE STORY OF SPECTRUM: GOING, GOING, GONE
Ofcom takes us ever nearer the inevitable. The great spectrum release triggered by the Digital Switch Over (DSO) is to be auctioned. The opportunity for investment in the generation of local television at a meaningful level by Government is being passed by. Is spectrum a national resource or an asset to be flogged off to the highest bidder ? Once sold, will it ever be placed in the Ordinary Citizen's domain again ? That does seem unlikely.
As if we needed another raft of channels to 'entertain' us.
Southwark.TV is five years old at the beginning of February 2008. When it launched there was no Facebook or YouTube, and advertising on Google whilst already looking healthy had not truly taken off: business in 2003, 1.4bn dollars, was tripled in 2007 - and that in just the third quarter, 4.2bn dollars. That's growth. Broadband penetration in 2003 stood at 2.9 million households; now that figure has risen to 13.3 million households.
What is sad is that half the population according to Ofcom's own market research wants local TV and especially local news, yet Ofcom makes no meaningful response to that finding.
Nonetheless Southwark.TV sails on, is soon to launch its IPTV channel, will occasionally present local events, run training and production courses, and consult with political parties and other agencies that lead towards policy making.
Media Literacy - Parliamentary interest
The Associate Parliamentary Media Literacy Group began its working life yesterday, Thursday 7th December 2006, considering the issues and imperatives of digital convergence and new media's impact on media regulation. At this first meeting, Ofcom presented their three-pillars reading of the UK media landscape. The third pillar is media literacy - yet there are divergent views as to what this may actually mean. There are also questions as to what self-regulation and co-regulation equally may mean. How to progress from this confusion of words and interpretation, that is what confronts this many faceted and somewhat ad hoc group of interested parties. Community TV Trust [CTVT] is committed to representing the phenomenal potential of community media to benefit the individual and hence community via the acquisition of important new IT, journalistic and creative skills, not to mention self esteem.
CTVT is determined to put forward the interlocking arguments of community media tying in with education, formal and informal ... of the social and economic benefits that will flow from the funding of locally focused initiatives, such as training programmes, creative ventures in the arts and filmmaking ... for how else will the hard-to-reach be reached but by local presence and sustained support. Whilst it is understandable that regulators' main interest and attention goes with the money, there is a second role for DCMS and Ofcom to define and deliver and that concerns the statutory funding of community media as a social, educational and economic motivator.
This is no idle territory of doodle and dalliance. In its uncluttered, sometimes unpolished way, community media (increasingly referred to by industry players as "user generated content" or UGC [there's an ugly acronym]) rivals mainstream operators wanting us to 'consume'.
No wonder young people are spending more time at their computer rather than the TV. Media literacy for policy wonks, regulators and industry requires real reflection on this new and unfolding state of affairs.
Internet's Future - time to think about it
Occasionally it is time to upload articles from elsewhere, to be provocative, to rouse from slumber, to agitate brain cells out of their comfort zone. It is that time again.
Here is a copy of a communication sent out to 'Media For Democracy'. Read, digest, discuss.
- - - - - Dear Media For Democracy Activist:
After destroying TV and radio, the mega-media corporations want to become gatekeepers to the Internet. They're scheming to control what content you can view and which services you can use online. Streaming video, Internet phones, podcasting and online games are the future of the Internet. But companies like Verizon, AT&T and Comcast want Congress to let them deliver only their products at super high speeds ... while sticking the rest of us in the slow lane. This predatory scheme would be a dead end for independent voices and Internet innovators: bloggers, producers, and any new channels and services that might compete with the conglomerates. The only way to stop them is to raise hell right now:
Tell the CEOs: Hands Off Our Internet
From its beginnings, the Internet was built on a cooperative, democratic ideal. The infrastructure’s only job was to move data between users — regardless of where it came from or what it contained. This “network neutrality” fostered a medium that did not exclude anyone, allowed for far-reaching innovations, and created the Internet as we know it. Past experience shows that when large media companies are left to their own devices, the result is content and services that serve nothing but their bank accounts. An open and independent Internet is the antidote to these media gatekeepers. If big media companies are allowed to limit the fastest services to those who can pay their toll, upstart Web services, consumers, bloggers and new media makers alike all would be cut off from the digital revolution.
Tell the CEOs: Hands Off Our Internet.
Media For Democracy and Free Press will deliver a letter to the CEO of your broadband provider and send copies to your members of Congress, urging them to write “network neutrality” into law. Act now. We must defend our Net freedoms before we lose them altogether. Onward, David DeGraw Executive Director MediaChannel.org
Timothy Karr Campaign Director FreePress.net
P.S. Please forward this e-mail right now to everyone you know who uses the Internet P.P.S Check out the new Free Press campaign — Dead End for the Internet? — to learn more about net neutrality and how to ensure that the Web remains an open road.
VOTER APATHY OR DISGUST
When speaking to LCC students at Olympia I asked a few questions to warm up the session. Energy was low. Just before lunch. I decided to be provocative: how many of you do not trust the Prime Minister ?
The room filled with waving arms. It looked unanimous. I paused then asked how many would vote in the coming General Election.
Five hands tentatively pushed up. Five out of one hundred and twenty.
If younger generations are feeling marginalised by political process, do the rest of us want a democracy that interests only certain portions of the country ?
At time of writing, Loyalists are burning Belfast and shooting live rounds at police and soldiers. New Labour Party membership has declined massively, almost by half. The Party mislaid about a million votes in May 2005 compared with 2001. If the Conservative Party cannot shape up and Charles Kennedy too does not deliver, what is there ?