In Conversation with Antenna tenant – Chris Breese from Notts TV

We recently caught up with our friends at Notts TV and sat down for a chat with Channel Manager, Chris Breese.

Since 2014, Notts TV has been the local TV channel for the city and county – dedicated to ‘Championing Notts’. The team recently celebrated their eighth birthday with the launch of a new show, “Notts Today”, delivering an hour of live Nottinghamshire news and conversation from their studio – based in our building – weekdays at 5.30pm.

Hi Chris, how did Notts TV begin, and how has it grown over the years?

Notts TV was launched by a partnership which includes Confetti Media Group and Nottingham Trent University (NTU). It’s part of the local TV network, an initiative started by the government to redress the balance between centralised broadcasting and regional broadcasting on TV and create regional jobs in journalism and TV.

We started off with the content you’d expect really, including business, news, and culture programming. Over time, it was expanded to make sure that there was a strong digital element – including our website stories, catch-up service and social media content – so you could see anything that we did, anytime and anywhere.

In the space of the last ten years, TV and broadcasting has changed, almost beyond recognition. Our focuses have been adapting to those industry changes and setting a high standard in local broadcasting. We also try to be a bit different at the same time by doing things in a sort of Nottinghamshire way. We celebrate the good things about the city and the region, without being afraid to ask the difficult questions, or shine a light on the problems that it has. We try to give people a voice on TV who you otherwise wouldn’t hear from, because there’s just not the time and space for them in national broadcasting, but that’s what we’re here for.

Please tell us about your team and the kind of people who work for Notts TV

The editorial team is a mixture of online and video-focused journalists. Our video journalists go out and film anything and everything that’s happening around Notts, whilst our online-focused journalists concentrate on publishing stories on the Notts TV website and getting the word out on our socials.

We also have a dedicated pool of presenters and producers which we draw on for different shows and features. And, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the support of our amazing Confetti technical colleagues, who work on cameras, sound, lighting, scheduling, directing shows and more, it’s a great team effort.

How has the team grown over the years?

Eighteen months ago, the Local Democracy Reporting Service team joined our ranks, they’re a team of three journalists who provide comprehensive coverage of local politics across Nottinghamshire. They’re employed by Notts TV, however, they’re funded by the BBC and the licence fee as part of a contract we won to host them. They write reports on important meetings and original stories on the matters that shape the area we live in. We’re about half way through the three-year contract and in that time, they’ve written over 1,300 stories! Many of them published across the BBC, Nottinghamshire Live, all the regional weeklies and also even Private Eye. All of their output is made available to other media outlets in Notts for free – they’re like a local news wire service for the benefit of Notts journalism.

Both Antenna and Notts TV are owned by NTU. What’s your relationship like with NTU and Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies?

Notts TV is editorially independent, and is run financially separate as a company, however, like Confetti and Antenna, NTU is our parent company. Our offices and newsroom are based in Antenna’s building and we work day-to-day with staff from the University and Confetti.

We also provide lots of student work placements. Training people and providing real-life experiences in technical production, video journalism and online journalism is a pillar of what we do. A lot of up and coming professionals in the media industry cut their teeth at Notts TV.

In fact, well over 150 students a year have direct contact with our team. We offer short to medium-term work-based placements on shows and productions. The bulk of these come from students studying on Confetti degree courses, including TV Production Technology, Film Production Technology, Event Production, and Audio and Music Technology courses. They gain IMDb credits for their contributions, and in many cases, they end up employed by Confetti’s tech team, in well known TV companies or are freelancing.

We also provide long term opportunities like the Notts TV pathway, which is where we take on ten Centre for Broadcasting and Journalism students each year. These pathway students complete their final year alongside our team, learning on the job how to be video journalists, videographers, and producers in some cases; it’s a fantastic opportunity!

Beyond that, the other thing we’re big on is broadening our content beyond simply media and journalism, and a lot of that comes from working across disciplines with different University courses. A good example of this is Notts TV Book Club, a talk show about literature which crosses over with the NTU WRAP (writing, reading and pleasure) programme of activities and events. NTU literature students are actively involved in NTV Book Club, helping to inform the research component of the show and generating engagement from viewers.

There’s also our history programme, Rediscovering Notts, a similar arrangement where we’ve had history students work on the show as researchers. It’s all very cross-discipline and it makes us proud to be a part of NTU.

Can you tell us a bit about your programming and your local coverage?

Our bread and butter is our live evening news programme, Notts Today. The pandemic showed us that people really value local news and they’re searching for somewhere trustworthy, accurate, and accessible – that’s not too stuffy – to find out what’s going on where they live. What we’ve done over the past year is refresh our previous daily show, Ey Up Notts, with a more contemporary look and feel. The new programme guides viewers through the ‘need to know’ and ‘good to know’ for Notts.

Lifestyle content has always been an ambition, and something we are steadily branching into with the likes of Book Club, and our new gardening show, the Nottinghamshire Garden – that’s gone down really well, people love informative content with a local focus and it’s a welcome bit of escapism from all that’s going on in the world at the moment.

Nottinghamshire Police hold a ceremony each year celebrating their award-winning police officers and staff, and we’ve been fortunate to work with them behind the scenes capturing content you wouldn’t otherwise be able to watch on TV. Our show, Notts Police: Operation 2021 provides a glimpse into life at the force through stories of bravery, dedication and the real lives of staff, officers and volunteers.

Not to mention, recorded coverage of sport has also become a big thing for us and always does well. Over the past 18 months, we’ve started working a lot more closely with sporting organisations like Beeston Hockey Club, who play at a really high level and already broadcast their games online to a good standard. We’ve also covered a few Nottingham Forest Women FC games as well.

You recently reached a huge milestone, having celebrated eight years on air. What are your biggest achievements and highlights during that time?

One of our focuses is on local grassroot sports – the kind of niche sport that you don’t hear much about, not even on the back page of a newspaper. One of the early people we championed was Emily Campbell, a weightlifter from Bulwell in Nottingham, who at the time was a very good standard, but you just didn’t see much coverage of her. We had Emily on Notts TV as a guest many times and we’d go out and film with her, and then she ended up winning Silver at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo… and that’s when she went massive. She’s since won a Gold at the recent Commonwealth Games!

Filming the recent Nottingham Forest FC homecoming, celebrating their promotion to the Premier League was a great moment for us. The special event, held in Old Market Square, brought the city together and was something to be proud of.

We’ve also done some challenging but exciting live broadcasts at places like Nottingham’s Metronome venue. This included a two-hour live edition of our daily show with an audience and live music. Big live productions require additional staff and technical support, and a lot of credit goes to Confetti’s tech team and work experience students here, we can’t pull them off without them.

Last but not least, there’s the tremendous growth of Splendour Festival, which we cover as its TV broadcast partner. The Festival keeps getting bigger and better, especially this year with headliners Richard Ashcroft, Becky Hill, Anne Marie, and that lovely performance from Vicky McClure’s Dementia Choir – check out our four-part Splendour special to see the highlights, including exclusive interviews and performances with the stars.

Why is it so important for you to continue maintaining a professional newsroom in the city?

Because how do you know what you’re talking about, if you aren’t close by to what’s going on and so have a good understanding of the people and the local culture?

Doing good current affairs programming and news is all about working together, feeling like you’re part of a team and generating ideas – as a news team we definitely do that better together than if we were a remote newsroom.

It’s also important to create the right environment for training – if you’re a young journalist or a young TV producer, there’s no better way of learning than physically seeing it happen in front of you, and then doing it. You learn so much by just watching someone more experienced than you doing what they do, that’s how I learnt… just listening to older journalists and how they’d ask questions, how they’d probe people, how they’d set things up and get things moving.

How does being based in Antenna, benefit your team?

If you’re going to have someone on live TV, they need to feel comfortable and welcome, and need to feel like everything’s professional and under control – in this way, Antenna perfectly suits our needs.

The range of services they provide are a good quality and it’s convenient to have IT, Estates, Hospitality and Security all in the building. Their meeting room spaces are also really good, we use them all the time, particularly for our pre-production meeting where we plan what’s going to be on a TV show. Drawing on the good quality audio-visual kit, we can sit and watch previous shows, and whilst the rooms feel like workspaces, they’re also reasonably relaxed. There’s lots of natural light and the way the spaces are set up is quite clever when you think about it, because they’re all based around a central seating area and so they naturally encourage collaborative conversation.

What are your favourite things about working from Antenna?

There’s nowhere else quite like it in the city. Antenna’s unique in that it’s got everything you need for a modern creative business, it’s got great broadband speed, great audio-visual tech, great collaborative meeting rooms, it’s easy to get to, the hospitality is great for you and for your guests. It’s got a great, friendly, community feel to it which fits in well with us – it’s an ideal place for us to live.

What are Notts TV’s future plans?

We’ve got more sport coming to the channel and our history show’s coming back for a new series. We’re also working with TV Production Technology students at Confetti to create a new TV show that provides a window into unseen bits of Nottingham culture – you can find out more this show on Confetti’s website.

Should members of the Antenna community want to learn more about Notts TV, what should they do?

You can have a look at Notts TV’s website to find out more about our channel, read local news, and check out some of our shows and specials on demand. You can also tune in to our regularly scheduled programming on Freeview channel 7, Virgin 159 and BT/YouView 7.

Antenna share your good news with us, so keep sending your stories in to [email protected] – you might be our next guest on Notts Today!

Congratulations to Chris and the Notts TV team on eight fantastic years of quality news and programming! Here’s to many more.

Not an Antenna member or tenant?

Antenna is Nottingham’s most established co-working and flexible office space. Whether you’re a freelancer or small creative company looking for space, Antenna offers flexible memberships from only £8.95 per month and a great city-centre location.

Find out more by heading over to our membership page.