Rogers Launches New Community TV Season

Written by: Lianne Castelino

Published: Nov 19, 2010

TV Toronto launched its new programming season with a renewed focus on
access, relevance and community participation it says is demonstrated
through several new programs.


“Many of the new shows were pitched by community members who have had
and continue to play an active role, from pre- through production
stages,” said station manager Annie Hadida.


And even though the new season is already underway, program pitches
are still coming and still welcome, Hadida noted, as Rogers TV actively
seeks program proposals from members of the community.


Phone, fax, email and online tools are available to do make show proposals, she added.


New shows driven by community members now airing on Rogers TV include programs like foQus with Deb Pearce, a weekly show about the issues and successes of Toronto’s vibrant LGBTQ community; and The LOVE Project,
a co-production with the not-for-profit organization Leave out Violence
(LOVE) that is entirely driven by youth at the Toronto branch of the
national organization.


Speaking from the Rogers TV broadcast centre in Toronto’s north end,
Hadida is now immersed in the world of community TV, having worked
mostly on commercial side of the business. Having moved to Toronto from
Montreal, Hadida said she spent lots of time “learning about the
community, studying the programming, eventually deciding that ‘we can do
better’ in terms of community participation and collaboration.


“Creating connections, collaborating with the community is what it’s
all about,” she continued, noting that going forward, community channels
like Rogers TV Toronto will be mandated to have at least 50 per cent of
its programming (by 2014) of an access nature – meaning the actual idea
for the show comes from a community member, with direct involvement as
on-camera host or part of the creative team, according to new
regulations put forward by the Canadian Radio-television and
Telecommunications Commission.


FoQus and another new show, Parent’s Talk, are
examples of access programming, with show concepts and content
originated by community members who are then matched with a staff
producer to help adapt the ideas to TV.


“We work with the community to develop new ideas, even to re-tool’ existing content for TV (such as Parent’s Talk,
which has now successfully migrated content from the Web to TV,” Hadida
explains. “We’re not deciding the actual content or the theme of the
show, but we are adding a TV framework, and mentoring the show producers
on how that works most effectively.'”


Of course, program staples like community sports continue to play a
big role on Rogers TV, which will carry local high school sports on up
to pro level hockey from the Toronto Marlies.


Politics, too, is a mainstay of community TV. Beginning again in
December, live coverage of Toronto city council meetings will air until 7
p.m., and then streamed on the Internet from if councillors carry on past 7 pm – which often happens!


As well, news and current event programming, such as that hosted by
well-known broadcaster Dale Goldhawk, are always strong draws, as
exampled by the vocal and active participation from community viewers
online or by phone.


Of course, active participation by the community is crucial in front
of or behind the cameras. Hadida noted that volunteers are the real
backbone of community TV, and that while the production staff compliment
is about 40 at Rogers TV Toronto, there are some 250 active volunteers
working contributing to the station’s programming.


Volunteer training goes on throughout the season, Hadida explained,
and several workshops are held to orient community members to the
production opportunities presented at the community channel.


Rogers TV is only available to Rogers’ customers (cable position 10
in Toronto and 63 in Scarborough); specific outlets serve different
service areas in Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland, reaching the
company’s 2.3 million cable customers.  The company’s online on-demand
video portal, dubbed RODO, does carry some community channel content as


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