Whoever said local TV on the Internet wouldn't work certainly didn't tell that to Neil Fairbrother... no, not the cricketer. This is the other Neil. The Neil that claims to have come up with the first UK site dedicated to local video podcasts.
Thames Valley Pod TV was launched in June by Neil (pictured right), who wanted to create a site, funded by advertising, where local video content was available to anyone in the world, free of charge. So far, the site has interviewed dozens of people from around the London area, including an alpaca breeder and an Internet psychologist, and has done various themed programmes, including a documentary on the German S130 E-boat and a cooking show. The site has already had some success, racking up 250,000 hits in July and it expects to beat this figure in August.
The site depends on its one-man production team: Neil, who works as the camera man, sound man, editor, marketing director and content manager. He says this not only allows him to keep costs down, but also to tackle topics that mainstream broadcasters such as the BBC or Channel 4 cannot.
"The BBC can't compete with us -- they have 20, 25 or 30 people behind the scenes for each show. The wage bill on that is huge. I'm the only one working on this, so I can do things they can't afford to do," says Neil, with chutzpah.
Filmmaker Hermann Djoumessi (pictured left) recently started working with Neil and now directs some of the video podcasts. He said one aim of the site was to empower the local community and give them a voice in the media -- something that mainstream broadcasters can't do, due to limited resources. "We want to enable people to talk about their lives and life story," he said.
In the future, Neil hopes to create a community around the site that would support the people in his video podcasts.
"I want more of a community for the Web site. There will be a store going up soon -- we will sell stuff from the people featured on the show. For example, artists can sell their paintings, musicians can sell their CDs. This means the audience can develop a relationship with the content provider," he said.
You can download the latest video podcast at Thames Valley Pod TV. -BJ