Had the pleasure interviewing Current TV’s Ezra Coopenstein as part of the first Portable Film Festival being run in Singapore. The old parliament house was a spectacular venue for the symposium and Ezra and I were seated in the centre of what used to be the Singapore government chamber. I had to try not to end all my questions with ‘Mr Speaker’ – I’ve never felt so close to the seat of power!
After overcoming the weight of the venue we launched into a discussion of Current TV and Ezra’s role as leader of the Viewer Created Content team. VC2, as they call it, is at the heart of the Current philosophy and makes up about one third of their on air content and all of the content on their web portal. Current TV is a clever amalgamation of cable television and web community. The first filter on viewer created content is the viewers themselves and the process of viewing, commenting on and assessing content is also a means of constituting a creative community. Current has been very successful in bringing younger viewers back to television because gives them an opportunity to express themselves and communicate. The TV offering has recently been extended to the UK and Ireland and in May will open its doors in Italy. Who knows, tomorrow it may be as ubiquitous as CNN or the The Discovery Channel. It certainly offers cable networks a model to upgrade their cross platform capabilities as Current offers an effective format to drive viewers/creators from web to TV.The initial vision of Current revolved around creating an independent news network to counter the top-down media networks. It has managed to create a service that is suited to the times, both politically, and in a media landscape beset with challenges. It’s heartening to see an activist community of citizen journalists emerging and Current TV seems quite comfortable fostering them and letting them express their voice.
In the coming week Ezra will be appearing in a range of cities throughout Australia and I highly recommend you come to hear him. I’ll be hosting the Sydney session which will be held on Tuesday 8th April at 6pm at the Museum of Sydney. More information about Australian appearances can be found here.