TV is still a great way to reach mass audiences and in many countries is still the dominant way people receive their information, and often carries an authority many online outlets don’t possess. The problem is, how to get your content onto the airwaves.
In many parts of the world community and local TV broadcasters exist, with whom the barriers to getting your video on TV are lower. Do your research and get in contact with the station or the appropriate programs directly.
When it comes to public and commercial TV, your job will be much harder. You will need to contact the acquisitions department of the station and find out their process for considering any material. Most of the programs they buy will come through sales agents, and they will not be interested in any explicitly social change content. Alternatively you could contact the commissioning editors of the station to see if your content could be re-worked for programs they produce in-house, but be prepared for knock-backs and editorial control over your work.
Many TV stations and large media outlets now have ‘citizen media’ programs that are looking for content from producers on the ground. These include The Guardian, CNN, the BBC and Al Jazeera. Check the fine print and be careful if what you are giving away is worth the loss of control or lack of compensation.
Local and Community TV
In general, community or local TV will be more sympathetic and likely to take your media, however you will of course reach a smaller audience. Do some research in your local area about what stations are broadcasting. Contact the station or program you want to air on to enquire about what kind of programs would be interested in taking your material, and the formats on which they require content to be submitted.
Low-power television transmitters can be a way to mobilise a local community and offer an alternative to mainstream TV channels by showing citizen media. One successful collaborative initiative around this was the Telestreet movement in Italy that also used a hybrid distribution model to share video between stations via the internet. Assembling a TV transmitter requires a some technical knowledge. Depending on where you are, there might be legal and licensing issues as well. Since the advent of digital multiplex broadcasting, low-power TV is a much more difficult to achieve, yet still inspiring example of community-led broadcasting.