London Community News
By Sean Meyer/London Community News/Twitter: Newswriter22
The country’s national broadcaster may have decided it was too expensive to maintain its over-the-air signal in the London area this past summer, but a man who fought to save it, may just have found an alternative.
David Winter tried to lead an ultimately unsuccessful campaign to have CBC build a new transmitter that would have allow the network’s old-style analogue signal to remain accessible in the Forest City. The decision saved CBC the estimated $1 million a new transmitter would have cost, but it also spurred Winter, president of PW Consulting, a local information technology company, to begin looking for alternatives.
“Last year when CBC was going to pull out of London, I met with city council. They used my information as a consultant report to go to other municipalities,” Winter said. “Even back then, one of the city councillors said why don’t we create a community television station. There was no plans to do that, but I started looking at the options.”
If London residents can show they want another community television option, Winter says the template for a solution can be found two hours southwest of London in Leamington.
Southshore Broadcasting Inc. is a non-profit, community-based broadcaster that provides multicultural and locally produced programming over the air on UHF 34 and on digital cable 100. Southshore’s mandate is to provide local, informative, educational and entertaining programming that reflects the desires of the community it serves.
The locally produced content will include programming in French and Spanish language, for local First Nation and special needs communities, and local government programming of city council meetings and promotions.
“I saw what Tony (Vidal, president and CEO of Southshore) was doing down in Leamington. It isn’t just complementing Leamington, it is providing Essex County with a voice,” Winter said. “You have Cleveland and Detroit, you don’t have basically any Windsor news, a little bit of CTV, but there isn’t Essex news. That is what Tony complements down there. So people in the county get the sense this is what their community television is.”
Vidal said when Winter first contacted him earlier this year, he saw an opportunity for a type of community-focused programming that would complement what already exists in the London area.
“I think the opportunity is there from the standpoint it is going to compliment what is here. Especially over the air,” Vidal said. “It isn’t a cable television as such. There really isn’t anything like this that we are aware of. Even the (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) says we are something of an anomaly.”
Vidal said CFTV34 is basically a combination of the kinds of programming people are accustomed to on cable community television, OMNI multicultural television and the American public broadcaster, PBS. Vidal said CFTV34 fills the niche of community television, complementing existing media such as CTV, CBC, Global, as well as printed media as well.
It is a template Winter said he is excited to help bring to London.
“I started seeing everything on the digital form about CFTV down in Leamington,” Winter said. “I was thinking Leamington is too small a town to have a community television station for Essex. I didn’t realize how great they had it down there.”
Vidal said there would not only be an opportunity for more locally produced programming, but there would be an impact on the job market as well. Not only would the venture create jobs, Vidal and Winter agreed it would give students from Fanshawe College, for example, the opportunity to gain experience and maybe not leave London after graduation.
Right now, Winter and Vidal said they are exploring to see if there the desire is for a new television broadcaster in the London area. That exploration is key to starting up the proposed station, possibly as soon as next year.
“Ultimately, it isn’t Southshore bringing this to London. We are visiting; we are exploring the possibility of the need for this kind of service in London. Will the community support this service?” Vidal said. “We could easily come in, get a license, set up shop and away we go. But that is not what we do. We want to find out that there is a need here, if there are people committed to the project and are going to run with it.”
One way Winter is hoping to gauge public interest is through an online petition. For more information, or to sign the petition in English, visit www.petitiononlinecanada.com/petition/lack-of-local-television-programming/1077. In French, visit www.petitiononlinecanada.com/petition/manque-de-programmation-de-television-locale/1078.
For more information on the potential television venture, contact David Winter at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.cftv34.tv.
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