The television channel Community Channel plans to become the UK’s first community-owned TV channel after offering charities and members of the public the chance to own a stake in the initiative.
The Community Channel, which is owned by the communications charity the Media Trust and focuses on issues in the third sector, is offering people the opportunity to purchase community shares issued via the crowdfunding platform Crowdfunder.
The channel was created as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Media Trust in 2000 but the charity said it was doing what it calls "the people’s initial public offering" because the channel needs to become independent.
"We want to be a channel of the community, by the community and for the community – independent, creatively renewed, and committed to being not-for-profit," the Media Trust says on its website.
The charity aims to raise at least £300,000 for the channel, which will become a Community Benefit Society – an organisation that conducts business for the benefit of the community. It will use the funding to grow advertising, viewing figures and sponsorship income and attract further investment.
Would-be investors can invest amounts as little as £50 into the channel, which is available on Freeview, Sky, Virgin Media and Freesat and is currently funded by the Big Lottery Fund. The project will only be funded if at least £300,000 is invested by the end of 30 June.
The director of a UK charity will be nominated to sit on the channel’s board. They will be joined by three community shareholders, two Media Trust representatives, four members nominated by the broadcasting industry and up to three co-opted members.
Caroline Diehl, chief executive and founder of the Media Trust, said she hoped the channel could become self-sustaining and that it had been decided that the community shares route was the best way to fill that funding gap.
She said: "We are coming up with an innovative way to raise funds, but more important is that strategically we are giving a really strong message that this is the people’s channel – a community channel – and we are inviting people to buy a share in it and have a voice in the running of it as well as using it as a platform for their content."
Alex Kann, director of Community Channel, said: "After 15 years of growing our audience, this exciting new chapter will enable us to grow the brand, create strong distribution channels, across TV, online and mobile and deliver even more impact."