Community Channel reborn after crowdfunding raises nearly £400k

The TV and online station aims to bring charities on board that can provide input into schedules and submit short films

Community Channel has relaunched after becoming the first supporter-owned national TV channel by raising more than £390,000 through public crowdfunding.

The TV station – which is dedicated to highlighting issues from local and international communities as well as the voluntary and charitable sectors – is now owned by more than 200 people as a charitable community benefit society.

Over the past five years the channel’s audience has risen from four million to more than 10 million unique viewers, as well as online and on-demand viewers. Speaking to Third Sector, new chief executive Alexander Kann said that there were plans to grow the channel’s TV and digital audiences further.

"We are now in the process of consulting our 200-plus new owners, asking them how the channel should evolve and about new areas where we can drive engagement by bringing content together with action," he said. "We will be testing how people engage with the content we are creating across a range of platforms. The TV aspect will be one component alongside two or three equally sized strands that we hope to launch next year."

Community Channel was launched in 2000 and at first broadcast mainly charity adverts for three hours a day. It is now available all day and is available on Freeview, Sky, Virgin Media and Freesat. It broadcasts mainly original programmes, bringing together little-known and high-profile organisations, providing a platform for them to air their messages and inspire people.

The channel welcomes involvement from charities, from providing material for its scheduled programmes to submitting short films to be broadcast, especially those that link to the issues being featured.

"We love to feature charities in our programming," said Kann. "We are looking at developing the best ways to create programmes that draw audiences and showcase the great work that organisations do for our communities.

"We are the channel of the ‘makers’. We provide the platform for the pioneers in society to broadcast their messages and inspire people to take action, generating positive social impact."

The channel has announced its new board, comprising professionals from the media and charity sectors. Chaired by Media Trust founder Caroline Diehl, the board is made up of representatives from Sky, Channel 4, Arqiva and the charitable foundation the Barrow Cadbury Trust.   

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