Community share issue success for Sheffield Live TV

It’s been a rollercoaster and a learning experience to work on the UK’s first community share issue into broadcast media. But I’m very happy to report that Sheffield Live TV, the local television channel for Sheffield, has achieved its launch fundraising target – with over 100 supporters (including me!) applying to become “community shareholders”.

I’ve been working with Sheffield Community Media Ltd, a new community benefit society which owns Sheffield Live TV, to organise the community share issue. Having organised two national conferences about how to run community share issues, it’s been fascinating to be involved in one myself and we’ve learned a great deal.  We’ve drawn upon helpful advice from the Community Shares Unit, from consultant Dave Boyle, from legal advisors Wrigleys, from Jaqui Devereux; and support from the Accelerate programme in Sheffield, the Co-operative Enterprise Hub, CM Solutions, and others.

The public community share issue has now closed – and we raised £165,000* through community shares and social investment commitments: £10,000 more than our target. [**UPDATE, May 2015: very pleased to have secured a further £20,000 investment from a well known Sheffield organisation, making total raised £185,000].

As a crowdfunding initiative to put Sheffield’s local TV channel into community ownership, this is the first of its kind in the UK media sector. It’s enabling Sheffield people, businesses and voluntary organisations to participate as investors in a society to support local community media.

In the last 7 days of fundraising, nearly £20,000 was generated, taking the campaign over the target it needed to achieve by 14 August. Over 100 individuals, businesses and voluntary organisations have each applied for between £100 and £20,000 worth of community shares. The cash will be used to purchase equipment and complete studio facilities for public access and independent production. Sheffield Community Media intends to pay its community shareholders a modest rate of interest.

The new TV channel will broadcast on Freeview Channel 8, Virgin Cable, and the internet. Once on air, from 23 September, it will benefit from revenue via a contract to supply news to the BBC – as well as local and national advertising and sponsorship. The channel will collaborate with existing community radio station, Sheffield Live!, which has been broadcasting via FM for nearly seven years.

Sheffield Live TV will broadcast news about Sheffield alongside programmes covering Sheffield music, sport, culture and much more. It promises unique, high quality content, “Made in Sheffield, Made by you.” A flagship daily news programme will cover Sheffield news in depth while other programmes will cover Sheffield’s “rich, varied, and diverse”  music, events, culture, arts, and sports.

Here’s some news coverage

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