University of Leicester
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Cable television and community access.

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posted on 2015-11-19, 08:56 authored by Ralph M. Negrine
Greenwich Cablevision Limited ran Britain's first Community Television experiment from July 1972 to December 1974. The experiment utilised the company's cable network available to 14,000 subscribers. It was a local based channel of communication intent on involving local volunteers in all aspects of programme making and granting them full access to the means of programme production and transmission. The experiment was seen by the cable television industry as a preliminary step towards the fuller exploitation of the cable technology itself. The research presented here, carried out between 1972 and 1975, examines the history of the industry whose growth has long been contained by private and public interests. Interviews with volunteers and salaried staff were the main sources of information on the extent of participation in the medium, the production (by volunteers) of programmes and the development of the experiment. The information confirmed the variety of forms that participation could take ranging from helping out to making entire programmes and the low level of participation in the experiment as a whole. A small number of volunteers did, however, become heavily involved in all stages of programme production and took on special responsibilities for both entire programmes and other voluntary participants. A structure similar to that of the mass media thus evolved where none had been intended. Surveys of local residents and of local voluntary associations highlighted the low level of participation in both programme making and viewing despite knowledge of the channel's existence. Ceblevision partially succeeded in its aims to involve and interest local people in programme production. Its closure reflects the economic background to the experiment and the need to find alternative sources of finance to fund novel and financially unprofitable forms of broadcasting.


Date of award


Author affiliation

Media and Communication

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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