A Breath of Fresh Air on Country Channel TV

By Robert MacDougall-Davis

Talking Pictures alias talkingpix.co.uk






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In June 2006 the first countryside television channel was launched by former top-40 hit rock star, Paul Aitken (Country Channel CEO and Chairman).  An enthusiastic David Cameron MP switched on Country Channel TV, a free-to-view internet TV channel entirely dedicated to sharing its passion for the countryside with like-minded viewers from around the world.

Paul’s inspiration for the channel sprang from his passion for country matters and his desire to give a voice to the countryside: “I believe passionately that I want to give the countryside a voice. It has been fragmented and, here at the Country Channel, we can look at all the issues holistically and give air time to the array of country matters. We want to air the real issues and real people in the countryside.”

Since its inauguration in 2006 The Country Channel has gone from strength to strength and grown from Paul’s passionate vision, into one of the most watched specialist internet TV channels in the world.  Run from a converted barn in West Oxfordshire the Country Channel beams high quality rural programming across the globe to more than 150000 regular viewers worldwide.

The diversity of programming

The programming on the channel is extremely diverse, featuring over 200 hours of free-to-view and engaging high quality productions about the countryside.  This archive of programming, spanning 48 different topic areas, is sub-divided into six major strands (Farming, Lifestyle, Wildlife and Animals, Recreation, Equestrian and Country Pursuits) making browsing the video-on-demand archive a straightforward and rewarding experience.  By visiting the channel you will discover a raft of programmes on topics including country pursuits (fishing and hunting), equestrian, wildlife and animals, farming, homes and gardens, heritage, arts and crafts, shows and festivals, countryside politics and much more. 

Programmes running on the channel range from educational features, such as the plight of the honeybee and a monthly series of farming and fishing, to a series of engaging ‘Face to Face’ interviews with eminent countryside figures such as The Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP (Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and Orri Vigfussen (Chairman and Founder of the North Atlantic Salmon Fund).

High quality

All Country Channel productions are underpinned by an unwavering commitment to the creation of high-quality material.  The production team consists of experienced producers, cameramen, and editors, backed by a board of directors who contribute a blend of skills and expertise, held together by a shared passion for the countryside.  This fusion of experience and understanding ensures that all Country Channel programmes are produced to a very high standard.  Contributors include BBC’s Bill Turnbull and Rob Bonnet, Wendy Nelson from “Heart of the Country” and Olympic Silver Medallist, Lucinda Green and BAFTA nominated Producer Claire Barry.

Highlights of the Country Channel’s first three years have included a live six hour webcast of the ‘Countryside Rocks’ festival from Highclere Castle, with Bryan Ferry, Stevie Winwood and Eric Clapton, exclusive coverage of Blenheim Horse Trials, and a behind the scenes visit to BBC Radio 4’s flagship countryside programme, ‘The Archers’.  The Country Channel also filmed for Prince Charles 60th birthday celebrations in Norfolk with Music in Country Churches. So whether you are interested in a particular aspect of the countryside or just enjoy learning about countryside issues there is something for everyone on the channel.

The Country Channel Trust

A major element of the channel is its commitment to educational programming which is supported by the ‘Country Channel Trust’, a registered charity, which was set up to educate people of all ages and examine issues concerning all aspects of the countryside. Much of the Country Channel’s work is non-commercial and it provides an extensive educational resource, including its interactive educational website, LANDed (www.land-education.co.uk).  The Duke of Westminster is the official patron of the Trust.

Highs and lows

Running a small business is never easy and The Country Channel has had its fair share of ups and downs over the past few years. However, despite the economic downturn, The Country Channel is continuing to expand, due in part to major government backed advances in rural broadband access, and in August 2009 moved to new offices.  The move signalled changing times at the Country Channel and represents a big step forward.  The new site offers not only more space and improved facilities, but plenty of room for the new TV studio which will enable the production of live broadcasts and a wider range of programming.  With continued and sustained growth on the horizon the future looks bright for the Country Channel and Paul is buoyant, “If you’ll forgive me for being waxing lyrical for a moment, I feel that beautiful views, lovely sunsets and the countryside are things that people all over the world can share and appreciate.”

How to tune in to the Country Channel

Country Channel TV streams scheduled programmes and video-on-demand over the internet 24/7 and is free to view at www.countrychannel.tv. Selected country channel programming is also broadcast during peak viewing times on Sky Channel 171 (My Channel) at the following times: Sky Channel 171 Mon-Fri: 7-8am, 12-1pm and 6-8pm. Sat-Sun: 7-8am and 12-2pm.

Visit www.countrychannel.tv
The Voice of the Countryside

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