Not many counties can boast having a community television station, but thanks to a group of volunteers Longford now has one and soon locals will be able to avail of it to create their own programmes.
The project is the work of a volunteer group called Out-take Media, which has set up a studio on the Athlone Road in Longford town.
“Out-take Media started four years ago as a group of like-minded people who had an interest in making films,” said the group’s Chairman, Seamus Clarke, who explained that the group’s focus turned to television when it was offered the contents of a community TV station based in Dublin.
“We got a grant at the right time and the opportunity arose for us to purchase studio equipment from Dublin Community Television and it took off quickly from there. We changed our focus to facilitating people in creating positive Longford-focused media.”
Asked how the initiative will operate, Seamus said it is very much about getting the community actively involved and he hopes Out-take Media can facilitate a wide variety of programming covering everything from arts and culture to local affairs, environmental issues to local history and community events, and even hobbies such as astronomy and music.
“Our aim now is to foster a community around TV media locally and to allow that community to create programing based around their own interests. We’ll offer the studio and equipment, and train people how to use it, and then they can generate the content themselves.”
Seamus also outlined how Out-take Media has been working with a small number of local groups in recent months in order to prove the concept, including a project which involved students from Templemichael College, Ballymahon Vocational School, Ardscoil Phádraig, and Lanesboro Community College.
“We were the media partner for Banta Central, a student-led magazine programme co-ordinated by the County Longford School Completion Programme, which gave a voice to young people who wanted to discuss what’s important to them.
“We’ve also worked on projects with Longford County Library, Longford-Westmeath Education and Training Board, St Christopher’s Services, County Longford Enterprise Office, Longford LGBT, and the Attic Youth Café.”
With this initial phase progressing successfully, Seamus revealed Out-take Media hopes to be able to make its facilities available to everyone within a matter of months.
“In six-to-nine months we’re hoping to be in a position to properly launch the station and open our doors to everyone. The plan of action now is to get known locally, get the community on board to make their own programmes, focusing on what they they are interested in.
“At the moment we’re also negotiating with a cable provider and a TV channel on the UPC network. All content will also be available online,” he concluded.