Ten Alps, the British independent production group originally co-founded by Sir Bob Geldof, has launched a digital division to offer government, training and business programming online. It comes after the success of Teachers’ TV and the acquisition of a number of magazine titles aimed at vertical markets.
“A tidal wave of low-end, user-generated video entertainment has hit the internet, but it’s much too hard to find the video with editorial substance. Public TV addresses that,” said Nigel Dacre, the managing director of Ten Alps Digital, who is heading the project. “We aim to build an online business defined by the so-called ‘long tail’.”
The company is exploring several specific internet television propositions, based on its acquisition of around 400 magazine titles. Earlier in the year Ten Alps acquired a contract publishing company, McMillan-Scott, for over £12 million.
“The client and advertiser base of McMillan-Scott is almost a definitive dictionary of possible customers for a UK public sector web-based media and internet TV provider, as the opportunity for niche channels evolves,” Ten Alps co-founder and non-executive director Bob Geldof said at the time.
The company says it foresees an imminent future where the entire media is online and few distinctions exist between television, internet and magazines.
Ten Alps has grown through acquisition, buying companies such as Brook Lapping, a documentary production company, which went on to lead a consortium to produce a Teachers’ TV channel.
The channel originally launched on satellite and now has a lunch hour slot on terrestrial television. It provides specially commissioned programmes for teachers and those involved in education.
Uniquely, the channel also provides over a thousand programmes available for download over broadband. As the rights are wholly owned by the channel, the material is being released under a creative commons licence which enables it to be edited for re-use.
Martin Trickey, head web master and director of interactive for Teachers’ TV, a former interactive producer at the BBC, explained the thinking at a recent conference. “Imagine I’m a chemistry teacher,” he said, donning a large pair of protective goggles for effect, before downloading his favourite programme, Ferocious Experiments, which shows chemical reactions that may be too dangerous to demonstrate in schools.
The Teachers’ TV web site provided a template for the Public TV web site and could offer a pattern for other web sites aimed at vertical markets.
“The technical heavy-lifting is done, development costs and delivery are on target and the revenue models are potentially exciting,” said Ten Alps chief executive Alex Connock. “Public TV is about, say, a medical student being able to find useful professional development videos, without having to wade through endless films of Californians at doctors and nurses parties.”
Public TV will bring together video from across the public sector, either hosting videos for organisations or linking to the relevant material on their own web site.