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The rubbish on television

Television has changed rapidly over recent years. As more of us switch to digital, the choice of channels continues to grow at breakneck speed. Weekly television guides approach Domesday Book proportions in an attempt to accommodate the increasing number of broadcasters in the market.

Surely this would be good news for the environmental industries? When you have such dedicated channels such as "Horse & Country" or "The Wedding Channel" you would think that somebody, somewhere, might have conceived an "Environmental Channel", showing programs like Celebrity Composting or Recycle, Recycle Recycle!

Perhaps thankfully, no one has – yet, which means that for now, environmental issues still have to fight for space amidst mainstream programming. Not the easiest task when the schedules are full of X-Factor and Strictly.

Children’s programming has always been very positive about waste and recycling. Thanks to shows like Blue Peter, school children of every generation have learnt about wormeriess and composting, or collected foil bottle-tops, which were somehow always turned into guide dogs.

Unfortunately, the pedigree of environmental programming for adults isn’t so great. 20 years ago when they still made Tomorrow’s World, you might catch Maggie Philbin demonstrating an energy saving lightbulb, or Raymond Baxter driving down Cricklewood Broadway in a car powered by vegetable peelings. But without the science angle, green issues were relegated to Countryfile, which languished in the graveyard Sunday morning minority programming slot.

This is where local television news becomes invaluable. When environmental issues are taken out of the big picture, and placed into a real community, the subject instantly becomes more relevant to the viewer. Abstract ideas such as the need to reduce waste going landfill, become real local schemes where residents of an area can recycle their food waste, or safely dispose of their fridges.

Local news has the benefit of being more magazine-style in nature, and so is the ideal platform for new products, solutions and ideas, or as a platform for innovative local businesses.

In a fitting mirror to the whole waste management issue, when it comes to television perhaps the issue is not the amount of rubbish on the box, but more what we do with it and how we use it.

Incidentally, I noticed that this year Countryfile now occupies a primetime Sunday evening 7pm slot, which demonstrates that the appetite to create and indeed watch such programming still exists. Perhaps we are closer to Celebrity Composting than we think!

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