Community Channel (UK)
|Launched||18 September 2000|
|Owned by||Media Trust|
|Picture format||16:9 576i (SDTV)
16:9 1080i (HDTV)
|Audience share||~0.0% (November 2012, BARB)|
(03:00am – 08.00am)
|Astra 1N||12207 V 27500 2/3|
|Virgin Media||Channel 233|
|Smallworld Cable||Channel 539|
Community Channel broadcasts inspiring community stories, uplifting series and documentaries that encourage people to Do Something Brilliant that makes a difference to where they live. Each year the channel broadcasts over five hundred new programmes and hundreds of community stories. A million individuals a month watch the channel across its platforms.
The channel broadcasts on Freeview 63 (02:00am – 08:00am) and Sky 539 and Virgin TV 233 and Freesat 651 (24 hours). It offers video on demand through the channel's website, YouTube, BT TV, Daily Motion and via BBC iPlayer. The channel is also streamed through TV Catchup and Zattoo.
The channel runs an interactive red button service with Looking Local on Sky and Virgin. The channel’s website presents deeper online resources and an extensive video-on-demand service.
Community Channel launched on Sky in September 2000, on Freeview in 2002, NTL in 2005 (becoming Virgin Media in 2007), YouTube on 2008 and BBC iPlayer in November 2012. In early October 2013, the channel launched on TV Catchup. It joined the free-to-air satellite TV service Freesat on 17 October 2013.
In 2004, Director-General of the BBC Mark Thompson and Sky's CEO James Murdoch agreed to a Joint Declaration of support for the Community Channel along with eight other major players in the British media industry – Channel 4, Channel 5, ITV, ITN, Discovery, Flextech, GMTV and the independent producers' body PACT. MTV, Disney and Turner Broadcasting System joined the group in 2006 and the now-defunct Joost signed the declaration in 2007.
Community Channel has produced and broadcast programmes from communities and charities across the UK and around the globe. Notable series include Chalkhill Lives, Kismet Road, Charity Chic, Action, Charge, What Can Science Do For Me?, Jon Snow Interviews, Volunteer Films/Untold Stories, Mad For Arts, Union TV, Mediabox, Talent Studio, Your Sport, BSL Zone, BBC Lifeline, London360, UK360, The Bald Explorer, The Ardent Fruitcakes, For The Love of Odd and Brilliant Britain.
Series from broadcast partners have included Charlie’s Garden Army, Charity Champions, Horizon and Panorama from the BBC, One Born Every Minute, Secret Millions, Katie: My Beautiful Friends and Secret Millionaire from Channel 4, Living the Life from Sky, Staying Alive, Shuga and MTV Exit from MTV, UK’s Toughest Jobs from Discovery, series from Link TV and Aurora, and on occasion films from BFI, Universal and Warner Brothers.
Community Channel has broadcast films from UK and global non-profits and charities including Sisters on the Planet from Oxfam, The Hunger Inquest and Nepal Challenge from Action Aid, The Space and The Two Worlds of Charlie F from the Arts Council, The ACLT: The Gift of Life from the African Caribbean Leukaenua Trust, EDC’s and Breast Cancer from Breast Cancer UK, The Spirit of London from the Damilola Taylor Trust, Child 31: Story of May's Meals from Mary’s Meals, Youth Producing Change from the Human Rights Watch, The Net Result 2009 from Comic Relief, Rising Voices from Unicef, and Health is Wealth from Water Aid.
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In 1999, an initiative by Caroline Diehl to create Community Channel was supported by Elisabeth Murdoch of BskyB, Paul Boateng deputy home secretary and cabinet office minister Lord Charles Falconer 
Community Channel launched on September 18, 2000 as a national 3 hour "ethical shopping channel" which provided charities a platform to showcase their merchandise, raise awareness of the works of national charities and boost the number of volunteers across the UK.
By 2002, Community Channel had increased its broadcast hours from three hours a day to 12 hours a day (8am to 8pm). It was chosen as one of the initial 30 free-to-view channels on the digital terrestrial platform Freeview. The BBC also agreed to supply relevant programming from the BBC archive to Community Channel.
2004 saw the launch of flagship drama series Kismet Road. Commissioned by the Department of Health, Kismet Road used drama to promote good health. Using a number of Asian actors, writers, trainees and integrating Urdu and Punjabi in the dialogue, Kismet Road was a breakthrough series in showcasing a multicultural Britain.
Community Channel also launched an interactive TV donation service in 2004. This provided a round-the-clock on-air presence for selected charities to encourage donations from viewers. Designed by Sky Interactive, the red button also enabled existing programmes, films or adverts of participating charities to further promote their fundraising campaigns, at no extra cost to the charities.
In 2004, Community Channel moved from an overnight slot on Freeview to a daytime slot.
In support of The Year of The Volunteer campaign, Community Channel broadcast a range of programmes which highlighted the work of people who donated their time to good causes. Programmes included Beach Lovers and Charity Chic – a magazine show chronicling the lives of those involved in charity shop work.
On Thursday July 6, 2006, the Broadcasters Joint Declaration was renewed with new signatories and at an event was held at Channel 4. The signatories were BBC, ITV, Channel Four, Five, Sky, Turner, Flextech Television, Disney, MTV, Discovery, GMTV, ITN and PACT.
Community Channel became available for two more hours on Freeview.
Launched to coincide with National Giving Week, Community Channel launched an online social networking area called YourCharitySpace for visitors to blog about charity issues. The site also offers visitors the chance to donate by linking to a specially designed page on the Charities Aid Foundation's website.
2006 saw the launch of Give More, Get More, Volunteer - a campaign to make volunteering more accessible for marginalised groups including people with no formal qualifications, people with disabilities and ethnic minorities.
Community Channel launched an interactive initiative for young film-makers called Charge TV and described as "YouTube with a conscience”. Charge TV ran for five series broadcasting on Community Channel and on the website.
Daren Forsyth of BBC Future Media, became the channel’s Director of Innovation & New Media. Forsyth led a programme of digital media initiatives across Media Trust's media training, news distribution, film and TV productions and Community Channel, the TV and online service for charities.
In 2007, Community Channel joined forces with The Scout Association to deliver the live broadcast from Brownsea Island of the Sunrise Ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the movement.
In 2008, Community Channel’s Awareness Campaign featured focused programming for a variety of campaigns including Disability Week, World Mental Health Day, Black History Month, Aids and Human Rights Day.
Community Channel launched its new BSL Zone (British Sign Language Zone) on 21 January 2009. This initiative offers an extended service in signing supported programmes.
In 2010, Community Channel partnered with BT Vision and was available on Freeview for 24 hours a day from the month of May to June leading to a notable spike in viewing figures.
In September 2010, Community Channel celebrated a decade of broadcasting. For the anniversary month in September, programmes including Inspiring Stories, How the Other Half Live, Living With Size Zero and other Sky health series were broadcast. Other seasons in 2010 included Alzheimers Awareness, Black History Month, Disability Week in December and programming for World AIDS Day.
Community Channel also launched Community Champions in partnership with Heavenly. This campaign aimed to recognise the individual champions in communities across the UK.The public were encouraged to nominate and vote for their own community champions. In addition, a dedicated telephone line enabled entry forms to be requested. The top 20 people with the highest number of registered votes were shortlisted and an independent judging panel then decided on the winning five. The 5 winners were recognised through a documentary that highlighted the impact that they make in their community.
Community Channel also partnered with Looking Local for interactive services on Sky.
October 2010 saw the celebration of Black History Month on Community Channel. Programmes included Black History and Me, Girl Guiding Anniversary, Future Shorts, Penny Revolution and Evicted.
In November 2010, Community Channel took a deeper look at deprivation during Poverty Month, with programmes including The Street: Film with the Homeless and SPIT: Squeegee Punks In Traffic. The Nick Broomfield Season, the Strictly Politics documentary, and Unicef and Children in Need weeks were also popular with audiences during this month too.
Community Channel opened 2011 with a campaign to increase cancer awareness and promote healthy living. Your Sport returned for a fourth series following its broadcast as shorts on Channel 5 from October 2010. An environmental season in March included Nature Inc, Planet India, Explore and The Environmental Atlas of Europe. International Women’s Day was highlighted through the series Make Women Matter and other programming.
Other notable spring and summer premieres included the Oscar-winning Blood of Yinzhou District, MediaBox, Talent Studio, Untold Stories, The Team (produced by Search For Common Ground), ViewChange, Charity Champions (from BBC Children in Need) and That Paralympic Show (from Channel Four).
London360 launched in June 2011, a ground-breaking series celebrating the capital’s communities through featured produced by young reporters trained in journalism, production and digital skills. The 'Riot Special' following the 2011 England riots received critical praise for its unique look into the London riots. London360 has broadcast five series and featured hundreds of communities to date with media partners including BBC Radio London, The Voice, MTV, Sky, Time Out, Huffington Post and Westside Radio. Many of London360’s alumni have gone on to work for major broadcasters including BBC, ITV, MTV and London Live.
In August and September, the channel ran a season of pioneering British films under the This Britain banner. These films were funded by the BFI production board and charted changing Britain from the seventies to the millennium. The season ran for ten weeks, launching with Horace Ove’s, Pressure (1975) and included Karl Francis’ Above Them The Earth (1977), Peter K. Smith’s A Private Enterprise (1974), Ron Peck’s Nighthawks (1978), Sally Potter’s The Gold Diggers (1983), Menelik Shabazz’s Burning an Illusion (1981) Patrick Keiller's Robinson in Space (1997), Margaret Tait’s Blue Black Permanent (1992), and John Akomfrah’s Speak Like A Child (1998).
In September, the channel launched a simulcast programming block on Channel M, a local TV channel in Manchester, broadcasting four hours a day. This continued until Channel M’s closure in April 2012. The channel also launched feature documentary strand Beyond Borders which has broadcast over fifty films to date.
In October, the channel ran a season marking Black History Month and in November it ran a season of programmes on addiction, including HBO’s High On Crack Street , its premiere coinciding with Sky’s premiere of The Fighter, which features the documentary.
In November, the channel launched UK360, a celebrity-presented series that featured stories from communities and local reporters across the UK. It ran for fifty episodes until August 2013 and presenters included Benjamin Zephaniah , Terry Wogan, Rachel Riley, Matt Allwright, Charlie Dimmock, Adam Deacon and many more. The channel also ran a short event supporting the Film Africa film festival and lifelong learning content.
In December, the channel broadcast eight Worldview-supported international documentaries as new films commissioned by Worldview, Community Channel and YourWorldview shorts. Other new programmes included An Inconvenient Truth 2 and Dream Islands.
In 2012, Community Channel launched two documentary strands - Postcards and Compass. The Postcards strand features authored, quirky, socially-driven and grassroots community films representing lives and passions from across the UK. The Compass strand, on the other hand, showcases international films offering unique stories and insight from little-reported places, featuring lives from the margins with tales of resilience and hope.
In March, Community Channel and The Sunday Times launched ‘The Change Makers,’ a competition calling on the public to nominate inspirational people that had made positive impact on the community. Six features appeared in newspaper including interviews with celebrity supporters James Middleton and Karen Brady. Over 20 social enterprises were showcased in the campaign and the winning group Street Soccer in Scotland received exposure for their work across The Sunday Times and Community Channel, a £500 prize and a raft of professional media support from The Sunday Times to help further promote their work.
Community Channel was broadcast partner for The Space, a new digital arts service from Arts Council England and the BBC. From July to October 16, specially-produced programmes were aired and featured content from companies and artists, from films on John Peel , Tracey Emin and Ridley Scott alongside full performances of The Two Worlds of Charlie F (performed by Afghan war veterans) and two Globe To Globe Shakespeare’s (performed by companies from Zimbabwe and Bangladesh). A specially-commissioned Community Channel series Arts360 brought mainstream and community arts to life from a younger perspective.
Sleep Out Live  was Community Channel’s first live broadcast event. Partnering with Centrepoint and six other youth homeless charities, it was jam packed with presenters, interviews, performances, guest appearances, link-ups across the UK and incredible films about youth homelessness. The promo featuring presenter Richard Madeley was broadcast to shopping centres across the UK with footfall of 60m people and was secured Sky cross-promotion on Sky News and PickTV, who broadcast it 46 times. This year, the event raised £350,000, up £100,000 on last year’s total, and plans are afoot to go bigger and better in 2013.
During the London Olympics, Community Channel documented the lives and passions of disparate groups and communities that can be viewed as being outside the social norm in the Outsiders season. Programming included A Very British Games, Gypsy Gentleman, For the Love of Odd, Thank You Skinhead Girl and UK360: Momentum.
In November, Community Channel launched as a third-party linking partner on BBC iPlayer. This enables BBC iPlayer’s 8,000,000 weekly users to find information and over 1000 on-demand programmes from Community Channel on the UK’s leading broadcaster VOD service.
In February, the channel’s Freeview hours were extended by two hours from 5am-8am to 2am-8am.
In April, Community Channel showcased an Against All Odds season to celebrate those who have overcome mental or physical setbacks. This coincided with National Autism Month and Cystic Fibrosis Week (29th – 5th).
May and June saw Community Channel introduce the popular Gypsy Roma Traveller season in which Gypsy Roma Traveller (GRT) cultures and histories throughout the UK were celebrated with online features and links to groups. Steering Group of 20 GRT activists, academics and artists identified issues to profile, e.g. housing, health, education, women, art and prejudice.
The channel secured over 20 new films and documentaries for the season, working with NGOs, broadcasters, distributors and filmmakers around the world. A UK360 special featuring GRT360 news bulletins, talking head promos and agony aunt spots added context to the season.
Community Channel received extensive online support with a dedicated microsite for highlights, news, topics and ways to take action. Newsletters were sent to over 20k subscribers to increase awareness.
In September, a new series of Brilliant Britain began piloting. Brilliant Britain is an entertainment magazine show which is produced by Community Channel and celebrates brilliant community stories from across the UK featuring regular segments and local stories.
Community Channel became available on Freesat channel 651 in 2013, and on TVCatchup.
In 2014, Community Channel moved its Freeview EPG slot from news (channel 87) to general entertainment (channel 63).
Community Channel and Media Trust gained funding from the Big Lottery Fund to launch the flagship campaign Do Something Brilliant. This campaign sets out to celebrate all that is brilliant about the incredible, diverse and talented people who make England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland a better place for us all. With charities, communities and individuals throughout the UK, Do Something Brilliant tells the engaging and entertaining stories that inspire us all to do the little brilliant things that make a big difference.
Do Something Brilliant launched on 25th February 2014. In conjunction with this, Brilliant Britain and My Brilliant Moment will showcase communities and charities around the UK.
Community Channel launched on Freeview HD on 18th March and can now be found on channel 109.
The Easy Riders launched on 19th March 2014. The Easy Riders is a new 10-part series starring Red Dwarf star Danny John-Jules and Steve Keys. Sharing a passion for motorcycles and adventure, we follow our intrepid explorers as they embark on an epic 1,250 mile journey from the UK to Valencia in aid of Riders for Health; a charity working to ensure health workers in Africa can access reliable transportation to reach isolated people with regular healthcare.
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