New channel content details finalized today?

A LONDONDERRY man acting as UK and Ireland representative for a proposed new TV channel in the USA has confirmed that Today’s Ireland is on schedule for launch on both sides of the Atlantic next month.

City native, Tony Culley-Foster is back in Londonderry today, trying to tie up the loose ends of an offer to the Culture Company, so the city can use the new channel to showcase itself to a potential audience of around 38m in the USA.

Originally, the city was offered a two-hours per week slot, with the content being repeated the following evening.

However it’s understood the Culture Company is now looking at providing 30 minutes of content per month.

The new TV channel, part of the MHZ Network set up by Frederick Thomas in the USA, will be launched at the Dail, in Dublin, and talks are taking place for the Belfast launch, with Titanic Quarter and Stormont.

However Stormont sources say the Titanic Quarter would be the favoured option, as, apart from the appeal of the Titanic to Americans, it also sends a major message about the creative industries and regeneration, at a time when the First and Deputy First Minister will be travelling to Washington DC to encourage inward investment here and promote the creative industries.

Mr Thomas has been responsible for bringing more international TV to the USA than all other networks combined. Most famously, this includes Al Jazeera, as well as a host of other international channels.

Already, a broadcast schedule for the new Today’s Ireland channel has been drawn up and British Isles representative Tony Culley-Foster is in Ireland this week to finalise details with some of the biggest TV and broadcast companies on either side of the border.

Mr Culley-Foster is hoping Londonderry will also stage a launch to profile itself to the new audience and that given that the Guildhall is out of commission at present, a suitable, historic setting can be found. This could be filmed and broadcast as part of the opening broadcast, alongside the Belfast, Dublin and Washington launches. The Washington event will follow the St Patrick’s Day weekend celebrations, on March 19.

Mr Culley-Foster, whose contribution to the Peace Process here was publicly acknowledged by President Bill Clinton and whose website boasts tributes from two other presidents and the Duke of Edinburgh for his educational pursuits, says the new channel will be balanced in terms of cross-border and cross-community content.

And he believes it will send an image to America that will result in new investment, trading and educational opportunities.

Mr Thomas will fund the installation of a rack-mounted server in Londonderry, to allow content to be sent directly to Washington.

Today’s meeting between Mr Culley-Foster and representatives of Derry City Culture and the Culture Company, is expected to address a number of urgent issues.

MHZ requested earlier this month that an amended copy “of the standard MHz-DCC/CC - 2013 Content Distribution Agreement” be returned urgently, and asked for “any branding, marketing or communications priorities”.

The council/ Culture Company was also asked to “provide, ASAP, the direct contact details on the designated Technical Representative for DCC/CC on the Today’s IRELAND television channel - CDA”.

MHZ also requested confirmation of “the specifics on the DCC/CC generated program content that will be provided in 2013 to MHZ for inclusion in Today’s IRELAND broadcasts in 2013”.

There was also a request for the provision of “DCC/CC draft branding materials that will be used to provide bookends to program content”, and confirmation of the desire to “host an appropriate Wednesday March 13 civic event to celebrate the UK City of Culture’s inclusion in the March 17 launch of Today’s IRELAND and subsequent Washington DC and nationwide broadcasts throughout the US in 2013”.

The local bodies were also asked if they were interested in a delegation being invited to participate in Today’s IRELAND launch events in Belfast (March 11), Dublin (March 12) and Washington DC (March 19).