PUBLIC SECTOR: Media Trust steps up PR to save Community Channel

A campaign is to launch to save the only UK-wide TV channel

dedicated to the charity sector.

The Community Channel, launched a year ago and run by the Media Trust,

faces closure early next year unless hundreds of thousands of pounds can

be raised.

The trust is now working to promote the channel for the first time. CEO

Caroline Diehl is carrying out public affairs work with government

departments, which are seen as a key funding source.

Sky Digital, which broadcasts the channel, is keen to ensure the channel

continues and is considering recruiting a PR and marketing specialist to

promote it.

And MT head of communications Sangeeta Haindl is coordinating the

channel's first media relations campaign.

Haindl said: 'This is a big campaign for us, to ensure the channel

survives. This is the only service of its kind and it would be

devastating if it no longer existed, not least of all for the many

charities which use it.'

The channel is used by more than 200 charities, including the British

Heart Foundation, to promote their work and fundraise.

The trust estimates the service will have to be taken off the air by

March, when £600,000 of Community Fund and Home Office grants run


This week Christian Aid is using the service to broadcast interviews

with families in Afghanistan.

The footage was smuggled out of the war-torn country into Pakistan where

it could be sent to the charity's base in London via e-mail.

The channel has a three-strong team headed by MD Gerrard Melling.

Melling said: 'The footage from Christain Aid shows the importance of

the channel to charities. They can put their own footage, from war zones

for example, out quickly and to a potential audience of millions.'

Earlier this month the Media Trust, which acts as a link between the

media and the charity sector, unveiled another broadcasting project. It

has linked up with Teletext to produce pages about volunteering.

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