So tonight I attended Big Centre TV's launch event, which was far from the all signing all dancing audio visual experience it could have been - it was hosted by Creative Networks who invite guests to speak to media students at Birmingham City University although the events are open to the public too, and the audience was roughly split equally among students, people involved in the channel somehow, and members of the public. Chris Perry is the channel director, and he spoke for roughly 45 minutes then took Q&A. Here were the main points and paraphrased quotes from Mr Perry.
Here is Chris Perry explaining what BCTV is all about:
They are based at the Goldmine Centre which they share with Walsall Studio School.
Kaleidoscope were approached when the licence was first advertised but weren't interested. "Local TV to me meant crap TV" but by the time it was readvertised they were in a better position to have ago and the thought as "If we're going to do it, we're going to do it well."
BCTV's competitors were sceptical they would even launch and there were some nasty emails going round, but two days ago they congratulated them on a job well done. "We're barely scratching the surface but we've done well considering we had a short timeframe."
He says if the ratings are right they know they're doing the right things. `Asked how many viewers they need to break even, he said "It's about advertising revenue but I won't go into that now. If we can get 250,000 in a month I'll be happy."
"We know there are people who would like to advertise with ITV Central but cannot afford to." They are £1000 away from their first month's target for advertising revenue. He later went onto explain his sales team.
"We don't recognise London Live as a Local TV station. It's a London station therefore it's national." Later said that LL made the mistake that 18-30s watch linear TV and their website is designed with that in mind and will include a catch-up service.
Since they announced their winning bid, they've had roughly 26,000 people approach them wanting to work for or with them and haven't been able to respond to them all yet.
They've found their coverage area is bigger than they thought it would be. They'll be on Virgin Media shortly although not in time for launch. "It's unlikely we'll ever go on Sky, the cost is so high."
On infrastructure, some of it is already there through Comux for other local channels. The sheet complexity of the infrastructure is incredible; OfCom were sceptical it could be done in 3 months.
Production wise they have enough in the can to see them through the first two months of their ten year licence and are working on the following two months.
Programmes are 7:30 - midnight and 37 hours a week of news is self-produced. I got this impression this meant everything else was made independently or in partnership with other producers.
They are already providing their raw news footage to the BBC.
On sports programming, they're doing ice hockey, boxing, bowls, and cricket and football in the summer. They have relationships with other sports broadcasters to ensure they don't tread on each others' toes. "There's a huge amount of sport that takes place outside of the top team games."
BCTV is not in competition with radio, universities, newspapers and online broadcasters. They're looking to go into partnership with other local media outlets over the next couple of months. They have a relationship with the Express & Star already (didn't go into detail).
There were questions on the diversity of the programming so Chris went through some of the programmes reflecting minority communities. They are trying to build into the schedule something called "Reflections" which sounds like a pause for thought type slot that community groups can get involved in.
There are four or five different music programmes aimed at different demographics. "No one show will fit all. The days of Top of the Pops don't exist anymore."
Some of the programmes were being made while the studios were still a building site, and he admits this might be reflected in their quality at first but they are improving. Some of the infrastructure was still being sorted out.
Chris talked about the demographic analysis and why this meant they scheduled certain programming when they did. He explained they can't compete in prime time with other channels so they repeat those programmes in the afternoon.
Various questions on how to pitch various programming ideas which were all told they would be welcome but to contact Mike Prince, director of programmes, or the news team for news stories.
The news team has 8 video journalists, which is more than ITV Central. There will be an election countdown programme where members of the public can put issues to candidates.
On the name, they wanted to avoid naming it after anywhere specific. "It's not the Birminham licence - it's a regional licence. It's a big area in the centre - it's what it says it is."
Chris Perry revealed he was bullied at school so stayed in to watch television and through his parents learnt to appreciate old programming, and that's why he wanted to work in television.
Asked if he felt he had a proper job now he said "Yes, it's the best job I've ever had, combination of a life's dream. Sometimes it's not about money, it's about the ambition. I haven't been paid for a year. "
Watch it and find out.