If you think multi-channel television isn't for you, try the Community Channel. Despite its worthy title, the channel shows some good programmes, and deserves wider recognitionby Christopher Hird / July 28, 2007 / Leave a comment
Are you the sort of person who thinks that there is too much television, that more channels means less quality, and that listening to radio is generally preferable? Do you spend your time reading, pursuing a hobby or ferrying children around and regard watching television as a last resort? If any of this rings a bell, you may be a “digital rejector,” someone who can’t see the point of multi-channel television and chooses only to watch the main terrestrial channels, if at all. You’re quite an interesting section of the television-viewing public, because, like it or not, you are going to get multi-channel television: by 2012 the entire country will be switched over to digital, and broadcasters and their consultants are interested in how you will respond.
If you are a digital rejector—or even resister—you might be the sort of person who likes programmes that tell you about the world outside Britain, and not always through the experience of war and suffering. You might like programmes about the unreported lives of people in this country. And you might like programmes which cast a more positive light on the world in which we live, rather than those which seem to be about a population that is emotionally dysfunctional, rude, frequently drunk and sex-obsessed. If this has any resonance with you, then stop rejecting and explore the digital world—there are things out there for you.
On such an exploration earlier this year, I came across the Community Channel. Shamefully, despite working in television, I don’t think I had watched it before then—though subsequently I have found that very few people who work in television have watched it; even fewer politicians and opinion-formers have. (Not that this prevents some from having a—generally unflattering—opinion on the subject.) More than 70 per cent of the population are not even aware the Community Channel exists. For many people, the name itself must be a turn-off, with its smack of do-gooding. Indeed, research by the Community Channel shows that its viewers consider it respectable and worthy (bad) ahead of involving, intelligent and modern (good). These responses reflect one of the many dilemmas for the channel—in its own words, it is “dedicated to raising awareness and inspiring its audiences into action on issues and causes that matter to them.” But for most of us, watching television is a passive entertainment activity: we don’t seek out television programmes as…