Viewpoint: Let's get social enterprise on TV

There is no doubt that BBC1's The Apprentice, in which contestants battle it out for a job working for Amstrad boss Sir Alan Sugar, is my key viewing of the week.

I couldn't go without my fix: the show is immaculately produced and full of great characters, bitching and tension. But ethical it most certainly isn't.

Apart from the suggestion by Tre, one of the participants, to donate to community sports some of the profits from the sale of the trainers the contestants were trying to market, I don't recall a single one of the show's challenges being about public or social benefit.

ITV certainly didn't cover itself in glory either with its last business-inspired idea, Million Pound Give-away. It was an embarrassment - begging made entertainment, which many railed against.

The same can be said of BBC2's Dragons' Den, the business programme for budding entrepreneurs - if it can't make the Dragons an immediate profit, they're not interested. There have been several great social enterprise ideas on the show, but they have all been knocked back by the judges because they couldn't see the bigger picture.

So how can we get the best business brains to engage with good ideas if the only things they are presented with are stereotypes of greed and avarice?

Apart from Jamie's Kitchen, in which Jamie Oliver mentored 15 unemployed aspiring chefs, there have been no social enterprise ideas on telly. Where are they?

Social enterprise should be benefiting from the same appeal that business has found on TV right now. As we know from the Government's own research, social enterprise has a very low profile.

At the Media Trust, we've been banging hard on the door to try to get the powers that be to think more aggressively about communication and the power of TV in particular. One organisation has taken up the challenge. The Media Trust is working with the Citizenship Foundation to help get young people into an ethical business mindset.

The Giving Nation Challenge is a competition that gives grants of £250 to schools to kick-start their activities. You can find out about this year's competition on the Community Channel throughout June.

There are great stories out there, and it's about time we told people about them. I'm still working on that killer format and looking for the cash to match it. Will you help me?

- Nick Ware is controller of the Community Channel. nickw@communitychannel.org

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