PUBLIC SECT0R: The Community Channel wins fresh funds

The Community Channel, the cash-strapped charity sector

broadcaster, has been thrown a lifeline.



The channel, owned by the Media Trust and broadcast on SkyDigital, faced

closure in March due to a lack of funding (PRWeek, 16 November).



However, after liaison with government bodies, £900,000 has been

raised, securing the channel's future until 2004.



The Community Fund - formerly the National Lottery Charity Board - has

renewed its commitment to the channel by pledging a further £600,000 to be spent over the next two years.



The fund helped set up the channel, which launched in 2000, with a

£900,000 grant.



The Home Office's Active Community Unit has also agreed to plough £300,000 into the broadcaster this year.



Running costs will account for £190,000 of these funds, while

£110,000 will be spent on a proposed initiative with an ITV

company, believed to be Granada, to co-produce a programme on

volunteering.



The Community Fund cash will be spent on the channel's Digital Community

initiative to help small voluntary groups and charities produce and

distribute broadcast quality footage for the channel.



More than 200 charities use the channel to aid fundraising and

promotional activity. Amnesty is currently using it to broadcast films

of musicians and music festival-goers explaining why they support the

work of the human rights organisation.



The channel's three-strong team is headed by managing director Gerrard

Melling.



Media Trust chief executive Caroline Diehl co-ordinated its attempts to

gain funding.



Melling said: 'We are determined the channel will not be a flash in the

pan. Our strategy has always been to grow this channel slowly to ensure

it will be around in years to come.'



The Media Trust is hunting a first designated PRO for the channel. A

head of marketing and PR is being sought, along with a head of

fundraising and business development.



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