How to start your own 24-hour TV news channel


Here in Romania it’s apparently all the rage to operate your own 24-hour news television channel so you too might be wondering how you can start one on your own. Luckily, it’s quite simple!

1) Get the necessary license

If you want to broadcast a television signal, you need a license from your local government’s licensing authority. In the United States this is the FCC. Here in Romania it’s the CNA.

2) Get your equipment and team together

This can cost you anywhere from a few hundred bucks to several million euros but if your dream is to inform a few sleepy elderly people who left their television set on as a form of companionship, you’re going to have to invest some money!

3) Decide on your method(s) of broadcasting your signal

A few people still use televisions with antennas and receive signals “over the air” for free so for this method you’ll need a tower (or two) and a powerful transmitter.

The more modern version is to provide a feed directly to “cable companies”, which then establish a channel on their media boxes for your signal to be re-broadcast to their paying customers.

The other modern method is to uplink your broadcast signal to a satellite. This can then be downlinked by “cable” companies to use for their terrestrial (cabled) network or re-broadcast to people (or companies) who get their television broadcasts directly from overhead satellites.

You can also combine the above methods with internet streams if you so desire.

4) Decide on a distribution model

This one is the tricky part.

You can give away your signal (in whatever form, cabled, over the air or via satellite uplink) for free to re-broadcasters (cable companies, satellite feed providers, etc), which is what many 24-hour news channels do such as France 24, Deutsche Welle and RT.

or

You can decide to charge “cable” companies or other re-broadcasters to carry your news feed (broadcasts). If they want to carry your channel on their cable/satellite packages, they have to pay you and then try to recoup the costs from their subscribers.

Note: in some cases you may find it’s worth your while to pay some cable/satellite providers to carry your signal as a way of increasing your prestige (or audience numbers, etc).

5) Provide news content for your viewers

This is the fun part!

a) Have some journalists (and camera crews) who go to locations, whether that’s far afield in foreign countries (expensive) or only in your own country (much cheaper) or, in the case of Romania, solely in Bucharest itself (B1TV’s dirt cheap method). Film news stories, edit them and then broadcast them on your news channel.

If you want to save even more money, broadcast from your studio and then have guests come to you and sit around a gigantic space-age table and discuss current events.

But journalists and camera crews, even ones who never leave the center of Bucharest, are darn expensive. The camera equipment itself costs tens of thousands of euros and a good neon table is crazy expensive and then of course there’s the cost of paying all those annoying salaries for your employees.

What can you do to cut costs and still provide news to your viewers?

b) Get free or low-cost video from other news providers.

Yes, there are news organizations (as well as “middle men” companies that gather news video clips) that constantly provide fresh video of news from around the world. For either a one-time fee or by monthly subscription, you can then take their news videos and pass them off as your own on your news channel. What could be simpler? Even the BBC does it.

The vast majority of these news video providers are associated with or located in the United States. This is why on every single news channel on Earth, even the one from Iran, you always see lots and lots of news videos from/about the United States. If it’s bone cold in America, you’ll see about it over and over again. If it’s super cold in India, it’s highly doubtful you’ll even hear it mentioned, solely because there’s rarely any video.

Of course all those news organizations out there are always in a rush to provide sensationalist shit, so you might get duped once in a while by ridiculous made-up stories, but you can always “clarify” later and never get in trouble.

There are also a few news video providers that collate and license news video from non-English news services, such as Italy’s Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata but again about 90% of all news video content that you can use on your own news channel comes from English (mostly American) sources.

Here in Romania, for example, there’s no domestic “wire service” as such for news broadcasts, which means that if you want to use a clip from Antena 3 or Realitatea you’re going to i) have to record it yourself and then ii) ask them for permission to use it on a case-by-case basis. Long story short, it’s easier to get footage of snow blowing in New York than it is to get a clip from Digi24.

c) Steal video from the internet

This is the best way to fill up your news broadcast. Why bother acquiring the licensing rights or paying for news video content when you can just fucking steal it instead?

Obviously if you’re running a reputable news channel like the BBC or Al-Jazeera, you don’t want to do this. But if you’re running a two-bit channel in Romania then please steal video at will!

It’s easy and perfect for lazy people. Find out what people are talking about and then go to youtube (and never any other social video websites) and find a clip that you want to use on your news channel. Steal it and then rebroadcast it on your own news broadcast. Couldn’t be simpler!

Romanian journalist hard at work

Romanian journalist at work

Stealing video from YouTube is also legal, surprisingly enough. As long as you mention you got the clip from YouTube then YouTube itself doesn’t care that you’re stealing content from the original uploader, even though they (the uploader) holds the rights to the footage. YouTube just “encourages” you to try to ask for permission first:

We encourage you to reach out to users directly when you find video you’d like to use, and to provide attribution by displaying the username or the real name of the individual, if you’ve obtained it.

Meanwhile of course if you try to add a short clip from a news channel and put it on YouTube, the bastards will make life difficult for you. Got it? Television news channels can steal and use your content from YouTube but you’re never, ever allowed to use their content for anything.

5) Figure out your revenue model

If you can’t rely on cable/satellite carriers to pay you for your signal, you’ll have to rely on selling advertising.

Since almost no country outside the United States has a reliable way of gauging or measuring who is watching a given television channel, your best bet is to hire a private firm and “encourage” them to massage the numbers. This way three different news channels can all trumpet that they’re “number one” in the rankings even if being number one means less than 5% of the viewing public is tuning into your drivel.

6) Sit back and watch your money get flushed down the toilet

See? I told you it was simple! Now quit reading this and get broadcasting the news or how else will the world find out about that dancing cat?

About these ads

Tagged as: , ,

3 Responses »

  1. Great piece. Thanks Sam and have a fruitful year, in all senses of the term.

  2. Sam, deep down, I think you want your own news network…SNN!!

  3. Now how about all them music channels from Romania?!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: