Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

New cable channel to screen culture year’s top events in US

Major City of Culture events will be beamed into homes in the United States by a new cable TV channel aimed at the Irish American market.

One of the biggest media magnates in the US will launch a new Ireland Today channel in March 2013.

In addition to talks with members of the Assembly and Dail, the company's CEO held a private meeting with members of the Culture Company.

Londonderry ex-pat, Tony Culley-Foster (right) accompanied Frederick Thomas, CEO of MHZ Networks — the company behind Al Jazeera and Russia Today TV — to meetings with the Culture Company with a view to broadcasting events from the city next year and beyond.

Speaking to the North West Telegraph, Mr Culley-Foster, Chairman of World Affairs Council, Washington, said: “We met with the Culture Company while Frederick Thomas and I were in Ireland from July 9 to 14 to talk about launching a new television channel called Ireland Today.

“It will broadcast news, current affairs, international events and cultural happenings to 35,000 households in America.

“We came away from that meeting feeling very enthusiastic. The Culture Company put on a superb presentation and Mr Thomas left with an exceptionally favourable opinion of the north west and its ability to deliver the content we are looking for.

“I have been in America for the past 40 years but I get home to Derry at least three or four times a year. I have been very impressed by the high level of quality work that is being done to put Derry on the map, and the development of this TV channel will contribute to that and I am playing my part to make sure it happens.

“The City of Culture events fit the criteria for the content perfectly. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the city and it was my goal that the content from the north west is included in Ireland Today.

“The channel will initially broadcast for four hours a day but will run 24/7 before the end of 2013.

“I was given the great honour of carrying the Olympic Flame through Magheramason recently and the whole place came out to cheer me on.

“I was very grateful for that, so I am always keen to show how great my home city is wherever I go.”

Garbhan Downey from the Culture Company said including events from the City of Culture celebrations helps reach the diaspora in America and will boost tourism.

He added: “We are very excited about the prospect of key events such as the Turner Prize and the All Ireland Fleadh being broadcast in America, but equally important is the prospect that the city will be showcased on a weekly basis during 2013 and beyond.”

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