SA: New channel CTV (Cape Twon TV) calls for Support and partnerships

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CTV has been on air for 7 months now and has achieved an enormous amount with limited resources. During this period CTV has established a loyal viewership in the Cape Town community.

With virtually no budget for content, CTV managed to garner a significant amount of local and international programmes, ranging from documentaries to short films, music videos and even some feature films. To produce local programming the channel has partnered with 15 independent production companies, five of which are currently producing programmes for CTV.

The development of local talent is very much on the agenda of this young community broadcaster, which has already launched two training programmes in partnership with separate training providers. A total of 32 young people who have never had access to the audio visual media have received basic training and are working on content for the channel.

They key challenge the station faced in the start-up phase was a lack of sufficient start up capital to set up and sustain it until revenues could be generated. With only a limited amount of seed funding from the MDDA, the station has been seriously under-resourced.

This has resulted in a range of challenges such as lack of marketing capacity, a poor quality signal and a limited ability to produce content. Nevertheless the channel employees are confident that, once audience numbers are established, CTV will attract advertising and sponsorship to move it onto the next level.

During this next phase of CTV’s development, the plan is to:

Programming

CTV’s initial programming emphasis has been on acquired content as the station builds capacity to generate more content. The local film-making community has proven itself to be very supportive of this community initiative, and the station benefits from a stream of locally-produced videos. CTV has also secured a number of ground-breaking content deals that promise to bring top quality programmes to Capetonians.

One of the most exciting additions is the Al Jazeera English, an international news and current affairs channel that is broadcast from 13H00-14H00 and from 20H00-21H00 from Monday to Thursday. Al Jazeera aims to give voice to untold stories, promote debate and challenge established perceptions - all of which resonate with CTV’s own objectives.

Al Jazeera was previously only available to South African viewers on subscription channels, but CTV brings this world-class news channel to your living room free of charge. This gives CTV viewers a deeper knowledge of world affairs and particular insights into the turbulent Middle East, where the channel is based.

Another ground-breaking deal has been signed between CTV and the Encounters South African International Documentary Festival. Encounters has been bringing world-class international documentaries to Cape Town audiences for the past 10 years. This year CTV will be the official Outreach Programme of the festival, with a mission to ensure that films which have previously only been seen in cinemas will be seen, free-to-air, by all CTV viewers.

In-house Production

The next phase of CTV’s development will bring an informative range of in-house programmes that promise to get Cape Town talking about important issues. CTV has secured the use of three fully equipped television studios based at UWC, UCT and AFDA and has set up an extensive database of volunteers who are willing to work on productions. This approach creates opportunities for skills development and job creation.

The following in-house programmes will be launched between April and July 2009:

Open Studio: This show, which is produced at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), is aimed at promoting public access and freedom of expression. The public access studio will showcase local storytellers, oral history, theatre, comedy, skits and puppetry or simply provide a space for people to air their views.

Talk Shows: CTV has developed a range of issue-based talk shows, often in partnership with member organisations through reference groups. In some instances, such as the youth and disability programmes, CTV provides training to volunteers to enable members of the community to participate in the production of their own programmes.

CTV is developing the following studio-based talk shows.

jade@capetowntv.org