A new channel for the community
On the 31st of October 1993 at 6.00 pm, The Community Channel,
Australia's first licensed community cable TV channel, was launched by
an enthusiastic cast and crew of over 70 volunteers. Program material
was supplied by local residents, community groups, independent film and
videomakers, TV stations, universities, colleges and hospitals and overseas
community TV groups. The three hour launch of the channel kicked off the
second community station to begin continuous licensed broadcasting after
Lismore's LINC TV went to air two months ago. The Community Channel
joins Redfern's CTV-1, which for the last six years has been cablecasting
to 2,000 Housing Commission flats, as the beginning of what could be an
Australia-wide system of local community based cablecasting.
Crowded into Metro's small Paddington Town Hall - based studios 200 guests
and supporters witnessed the enthusiastic efforts of local musicians and
performers, youth groups and programs producers for the three hour launch
directed by Greg Thomas. In the opening section a history on the birth
of Australian television and community television activism was produced
by Heuristic Video's Wendy Spencer, with archival footage supplied
courtesy of Channel Nine, the ABC and AFTRS, in addition
to rare early footage of 70's video activists' work from Bush Video's
Ariel and Mick Glasheen. After this opening segment, filmmakers Tom
Zubrycki and Russ Herman recounted their early experiences in community
broadcasting and reminded everyone of the long history of the struggle
for community television. The next few hours saw a host of guests and
performers like the new youth TV production group Generation X
take the stage all the way to the grand finale carried off with style
by the three piece band, Gods Cowboys.
The Launch proved to all involved that another kind of community-based
broadcasting is achievable and valuable part of Australia's broadcasting
system, particularly in light of the bumpy start in getting on air that
Sydney and Adelaide's community free-to-air broadcasters are experiencing.
Shortly Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, and Adelaide are to go to air on
a regular basis, providing a de facto network of not for profit community,
arts and educational broadcasters Australia-wide.
Cable television can be delivered with crystal clear reception on a system
that can be progressively expanded from 10 to 50 to hundreds of channels
as more become available. Everything from interactive school, university
and general education programs to movie channels and game shows whole
suburbs can play from their lounge rooms will soon be possible with the
capabilities of cable.
In America where cable TV has been a part of life for over 15 years, these
new capabilities of the "information superhighway" have been identified
by President Clinton as an important area of government concern. He sees
communications as playing the same vital role as roads and railways in
the cultural and economic life of a nation.
Australia can now take up the challenge of new technology in a way that
involves all Australians using local cable TV. Residents, institutions,
students, community and special interest groups can now have access to
the powerful communications medium of television. This local community-based
television offers an exciting alternative to other kinds of television
and provides training for all involved in the use of many technologies.
(Metro Television, based in the Paddington Town Hall, is a community-based,
not for profit video facility and training company. Metro has been part
of the Sydney and local area for over 10 years and is proud to be a part
of the trial.)
The Back Page, Jeffrey Cook, Station Manager.
Here we are in the second month of seven days a week cable casting! Every
day more homes are connected to the cable TV Trial meaning that our potential
audience and volunteer base is growing all the time.
The Community Channel is now a permanent part of the local area and is
there to both provide local residents with an alternative to the other
TV services but also to give residents a chance to be involved with running
their own TV station and in gaining skills to make programs. We are channel
28 on your set top box selector.
For those interested in finding out more tune in anytime to see what is
happening on the Community Noticeboard that operates whenever we aren't
sending out programs. If you have any information for the Noticeboard
please ring or fax 360 7417 and include your name and address. Then tune
in from around 6.00 pm each night to see what's programs are on your channel
and check what's up and coming in the Program Guide supplied in Cable
Cable. Give us a ring anytime an let us know what you liked or didn't
like about what was on your channel and feel free to make suggestions.
During the December 24, 25 and 26 and December 31, January 1 and 2 period
we will have reduced programs but all other times will see the full complement
of programs. Happy Xmas and New Year to all residents!
Don't forget we hold regular Orientation Meetings on the first Sunday
of each month at Metro TV, next door to the AFI Cinema in the Paddington
Town Hall. The meetings let people know how to become a volunteer at the
channel or how to get to make a program and what is going on with the
cable trial. You can also find out more about Metro TV and the range of
video training courses they run for beginners and for advanced producers.
Points of Interest
This month we welcome an important new addition to our education and training
programs: the Open Training and Education Network (OTEN). This
leading edge producer and distance education provider of TAFE and
Department of School Education (DSE) programs will be a regular
part of our channel joining Sydney University in being one of the
first education and training providers to become involved with cable casting
Also we welcome programs from First Nations a worldwide
alliance of indigenous producers who make programs for distribution to
all countries. Their representative in Australia, Frances Peters, a well
known independent producer and producer for ABC's Blackout
and she said we'll be seeing programs from America, Canada, Europe, Australian
indigenous people and, for this month, look out for the program featuring
work from the Hawaiian indigenous media organisation Na Maka O Ka 'Aina.
Help Wanted Section
We need people to assist us in raising fund to make programs, to buy video
tapes and to hire cameras and equipment. If you have any ideas or have
a camera you would be willing to let us use give us a ring or come to
a meeting. Remember Metro TV also has a tax deductible foundation which
can accept donations that will help us to keep the channel on air for
longer times each day.