December 2013        

Dublin Community TV: the latest victim of cultural cut-backs

Eoin McDonnell
Connolly Media Group

The announcement on 2 November that Dublin Community Television was winding up its operations was a blow to all involved, especially all the youth and community groups that have availed of the resources that DCTV opened up to all.
      Many times I was in the studios in Temple Bar to witness packs of youths milling around in a state of high excitement at their first engagement with a television studio, and to see the effort and imagination they created—youths from working-class areas who would not normally have access to this medium.
      The Connolly Media Group joined the DCTV co-op in early 2013 and received top-class instruction in film, editing, interviewing skills—in fact in any area we needed for carrying out our desired plan of producing video from a class basis. This instruction was given totally at the pace and level determined by ourselves, and for this we will be forever grateful, as I’m sure our many followers are, who are able to see the huge gap we filled in that year.
      As well as CMG and youth and community groups, DCTV developed many other groups who went on to produce fine examples of what can be done when you take the commercial pressure off young and developing video and film-makers. The ones that spring to mind are Dole TV, the Live Register, Citywide, and many other groups dealing with music, art, and minority groups.
      Those of you who have seen any of the above will probably be chuckling at some recollection of the best bits; those who have not, go on line before it’s too late.
      It seems that this end for DCTV is a common complaint with community groups’ funding. Normally this came from a mixture of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and the Sound and Vision (S&V) scheme, including funds from other paid training courses they ran. Besides the fact that the BAI is obliged to support and fund community television, they have slashed that amount by up to 80 per cent. We wait to see where that funding goes (the likely candidates being the private television companies now on air). The result is the loss of five jobs and a massive hole in community TV.
      DCTV have admitted to errors in the set-up they employed in handling the funds they received—not in the sense that they squandered or misused any of the funds but that they tried to spread it out to reach as many groups as possible. The fact that the S&V funding was project-specific and did not take account of rent, wages, heating, lighting, etc., and on top of that the fact that BAI funding also did not include these figures, the funds were stretched to the point where a rejected S&V project (or in this case several) meant the end of the road.
      The BAI is fully aware of this and has turned a blind eye.
      If there is a lesson to be learnt it is this: that if the BAI is serious about funding community television, as it is obliged to, it should fund it properly and not have the juggling of funds that was necessary for DCTV.
      We call on all TDs and parties to raise this issue and not let the good work done by DCTV slide off the table.

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