So here was another great Herefordshire Media Network (HMN) evening at the Barrels pub in Hereford with some 40 people attending. It was particularly encouraging to see so many new faces including professionals from marketing & PR, film, TV and journalism rubbing shoulders with those running music recording studios, web design companies and even satellite system businesses. Hearing from colleagues in Worcester bemoan the lack of similar networking opportunities over the border suggests one among many possible directions for HMN expansion.
The main topic for the evening was Herefordshire TV – An Opportunity Not To Be Missed. Nic Millington opened the debate with a brief introduction to the Government’s proposal to introduce a new tier of broadcasting – Local TV. He suggested the reasons why both Hereford and Malvern had been included in Ofcom’s national map of areas with the potential to establish a local TV station. He concluded by outlining some of the conditions and challenges that local TV proposals would need to address, stressing that the only chance of success in sparsely populated areas such as Herefordshire was if all sectors, public, private and voluntary, worked closely together and that the offer was closely aligned to the county’s broadband developments.
Local TV director Ian White (left) who is currently working on Emmerdale and Eastenders then described how he started working in television, how difficult it was then, and how much harder it is today. A local TV channel he said could offer young people aspiring to work in the industry unique opportunities to gain experience and skills in a real working environment. Ian’s experience of seeing local TV taking root in former Soviet Russian countries had convinced him that there was a role for local broadcasting in the UK.
Herefordshire based TV producer and director, Mike Jackson (below right) then took the floor, rolled up his sleeves, and sketched out for the audience just what it might take to produce a daily half hour factual programme. Mike drew upon his experience of producing a daily lifestyle / current affairs programme such as BBC 1’s Really Useful Show, and his hugely entertaining presentation pulled no punches with regard to the challenges that this approach to local TV production would present.
The evening continued with a very lively debate. Views from the floor encompassed the full range of opinion from those that were deeply sceptical about the viability of local TV, and even the need for a local channel, to some remaining agnostic and prepared to wait and watch, to others that were passionate about seeing local TV in some form become a reality.
HMN Chairman Ian Morgan said: “I think it’s blatantly obvious there was enough creative talent in that room last night to prove that Herefordshire TV could easily become a real possibility. The diversity of creative and realistic view points were immensely refreshing and sobering at the same time. The challenges ahead are very real and the Herefordshire Media Network can play a major role in keeping people informed.”
Finally Herefordshire’s very own wizard of low / no budget feature film production, Neil Oseman screened the trailer for his exquisitely beautiful short film Stop/Eject and described his experiences of funding the film through crowd sourcing. This provided an intriguing alternative to the funding models explored earlier in the evening and suggested that somewhere between the old now failing financial models and the DIY mantra that accompanies any suggestion of new service provision, there must be a sustainable future for Herefordshire TV.
The evening was expertly chaired by HMN Chair, Ian Morgan and supported by young filmmakers and staff from Rural Media who set up screening kit and gave a sneak preview of the new HMN website. And one final thanks should go to Phil at the Barrels who provides HMN with the venue free of charge, and a brilliant pint at a brilliant price.
Many thanks to Dave Jones (www.windupworldfilms.com) for the great photos.