‘This is not afternoon telly, nowhere else will broadcast this’
Due to funding problems, Dublin Community Television is to cease broadcasting
“What was interesting was that all the young people said, ‘I sound like a junkie’, and all the older people said, ‘I sound really common’. And that’s because they never hear their own accents on TV,” says DCTV’s Ciaran Moore (right) with Barry Lennon. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
“What’s the password?” asks the Irish Times photographer of the man who’s knocking on the door.
“DCTV is broke,” says the man and laughs. It’s Ciaran Moore, station manager at Dublin Community Television.
At the Fishamble Street end of Temple Bar there’s a small studio space and editing suite with a big window and a suite of cameras. DCTV also has offices in the Guinness Enterprise Centre off Thomas Street, but these are being vacated on the day I visit.
This month, after being notified that none of its projects would receive funding in the latest Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) round of funding, DCTV announced it would have to cease broadcasting.
“Five full-time staff lost their jobs,” says training and events co-ordinator Barry Lennon, one of those five.
The station will continue to air until February as they complete projects and investigate alternative funding options. “It’s an orderly wind-down,” says Susan Jackson, who is editing a volunteer-produced programme called CityWide on a laptop.
A volunteer and co-ordinator of the programme, she recently went to Poznan in Poland to film the Homeless World Cup.
If you have stumbled across DCTV while channel-surfing the high numbers on UPC (it’s at 802), you might have been baffled by the diversity of its programming: music shows (such as Community of Independents or the traditional music programme Coppers and Brass), community-focused documentaries, reportage, adult-literacy programming, storytelling, theatre, Portuguese-language shows for the Brazilian community, and wittily anarchic howls of rage such as Dole TV (items such as “C*** of the Week” probably wouldn’t get past RTÉ’s editors).
Television by the people
From the start it was all about television by the people and for the people. Jackson, a former care worker, says that at DCTV, “people could come in off the street and find themselves making programmes a day later”.
Anyone who wished could come in with an idea, learn how to film, present or edit and ultimately get something on the air.
Big audiences were never on the agenda. “At six on a Saturday, prime-time viewing, we had a Romanian-language show,” says Moore. “We put that up against X-Factor. There are 20,000 Romanian-speakers in Ireland.
“On Wednesday at five we have a mass audience in Drimnagh. ”
That’s the time they run Bosco Talks, a magazine programme created by young people as part of a training programme at St John of Bosco Youth Centre in Drimnagh. It’s all part of the ethos here. People make programmes about their own communities and their own interests.