I had heard about this local TV business (when I say business, I do mean Business) a while ago through various friends producing documentaries and TV in the Leeds Area. However last week I went down to an event arranged by the culture vulture (@culturevulture) to find out what it was really about.
Prior to the Q and A I tried to find out a little more about the project. Reading phrased such as ‘The upfront cost will be covered by the BBC, which will hand over £25m in licence fee money to the company Ofcom selects to run the broadcast operation. The BBC is also committed to spending £5m a year on buying content from these new Local TV stations, which one might imagine would encourage a few bidders.’ This was certainly something that i took an interest in.
Instantly I was dubious about the political agenda behind this project. (And so I should be working as a student’s union sabbatical officer) David Cameron (and his team of cronies) have big plans for localism are slowly making their way into the world of TV. It’s no secret that the tory government hate the BBC. One question I would like to ask Jeremy Hunt is if this is an attempt at the privatization of what has been a long standing publicly owned broadcasting corporation.
As station manager and founder of Met TV when I was a student I found that our University TV station would only work if it was made BY students FOR students. This was the aim of our station and it still stands today. I passionately think that local TV would only work if its made by the people who live in that community. Now this doesn’t mean that we should give the local vicar a handy cam and ask him to film the parish meetings. I am talking about involving resent graduates from film schools in the production. As a film production graduate myself I am more than aware of the difficulty of finding entry level work. Leeds TV (or what ever it might be called) could be a prime opportunity to showcase the amazing work that is coming out of institutions like Leeds met.
My final major project at the northern film school was a documentary about the closure of the Tetley’s brewery in Leeds. After a series of private screenings and entry into festivals, the ‘hype’ that had built up around the film had died down. However only a relatively small amount of people had seen the film, given its universal appeal (I suppose I would think that though, I made the thing!). This is where I think something like Leeds TV would be ideal.
The Leeds TV team are truly barking up the wrong tree if they think this will appeal to young people. Generation ‘Y’ want convenience, they want TV to come to them! As much as it saddens me to say it as a diehard documentary film maker, is terrestrial TV soon to be overtaken by Youtube and Facebook? Or is the relationship between ‘Sit back’ TV and 2nd screen ‘participation’ going to be similar to it is now? More and more I see hash tags for ever little thing that’s happening on the screen in front of you… (don’t even get me started on Britain’s got talent) The beauty of programing like that is that you would watch it with your family, friends or partners and discuss who you think should win. Now through twitter your living room as expanded to include millions of people through the world!
The overwhelming statement I took from this event was that many people thought that this project will be totally unsustainable. This project is totally reliant on the agenda of government in office. The ‘commitment’ to spending 5 million a year on buying content with most certainly not continue for any real length of time.
Is local TV something we really need in this ‘time of austerity’?
Would you rather see the 25 million go into producing more content by whole range of amazing indie’s we have in and around Leeds? I know which one I would rather see! However I really am on the fence with this one!
For more information about the Leeds TV project have a look on
Follow the hash tag #tvleeds and watch out for any more events coming up. Alternatively have a look what the culture vulture has to say