Charity-focused TV channel looking to become publicly owned

The public are being offered the chance to buy into and shape a UK TV channel aimed at the community and charitable sector, as part of a crowd-sourced share scheme designed to create the first “channel owned by the people for the people”.

The Community Channel, currently run by the Media Trust, is trying to raise £300,000 by offering tiers of membership through crowdfunding platform Crowdfunder, and become a community society owned by backers.

Backers can put in anything from £50 for a basic membership to £50,000 to become a “founder”, who will become a “sole guest curator of a major season on the channel”. It is open to anyone, including charities, film-makers, media organisations and members of the public.

Though many of those putting in more substantial sums will be given a significant say in shaping shows, the channel’s board will retain overall editorial control and all programming will follow regulations laid down by Ofcom.

Founded 16 years ago with help from Sky, the channel broadcasts programmes focused on community projects and charitable activity across the UK. It is watched by at least a million people every month, but Media Trust chief executive and channel founder Caroline Deihl said the funding would help make up a shortfall to keep broadcasting and make digital investments.

“This is a really exciting opportunity to broaden the supporter base of the channel,” she said. “It’s a minimum we’d need to be able to invest in taking the channel to the next stage.”

“What’s amazing is that it costs us less than £800,000 a year. It’s less than 10p per viewer a year, which is pretty good going. But we know our impact could be so much bigger if we had enough funds.”

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