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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 February 2007, 19:26 GMT
Coming to your screen: DIY TV
By Josie Milani
BBC Money Programme

Peter, aka geriatric1927
A PC, a webcam, a microphone is all it takes to become famous

Broadcasting is going through its biggest change since the invention of television.

Nowadays virtually anyone can set up a TV channel and start broadcasting. It's easy and getting cheaper all the time.

In the digital age anyone can make their own programmes and share them with the world online.


One such internet broadcaster is 79-year-old Peter. He used a webcam to shoot his films, and posted them under the name geriatric1927 on video-sharing website YouTube, where they have been seen over four million times.

Peter, aka geriatric1927
Real name: Peter
Age: 79
Videos on YouTube: 59
Number of viewings of his videos: 4,899,650
Subscribers to channel: 36,640

He made his debut in August 2006 with a series of videos about his life entitled Telling It All.

They were an instant hit. His fame soon spread beyond the internet and his story has been picked up by newspapers and television around the world.

Peter himself has so-far resisted all the media attention he has generated; including requests for interviews, photographs, and any attempt to identify him.

He was never filmed by anyone except himself, until the Money Programme persuaded him to give an interview at his home.

"No I don't like the fame, what I like is the warmth of the response from the people who have found me on YouTube," says Peter.

"I'm not seeking popularity. What I have got and what I want to retain is a group of friends on the YouTube community."

One-woman TV station

Another YouTube star is Katers17.

Real Name: Kate
Age: 18
Videos on YouTube: 19
Number of viewings of her videos: 1,672,642
Subscribers to channel: 13,662

She posted her first video four months ago and - unlike Peter - she creates characters in her videos.

Kate has become a one-woman TV station. She creates her own content, edits it and then broadcasts it across the world.

The experience is changing her life - as more people see her films, job offers have started to arrive.

"I think it could go anywhere from here, I've had a couple of offers for presenting on-line television but because of college I haven't been able to take them up yet."

"I haven't really had time to think about what I want to do with the rest of my life but I'll see what the future holds," says Kate.

Niche - but profitable

Spurred on by the YouTube story, a new generation of companies are trying to capitalise on the opportunities that online broadcasting offers.

YouTube logo
Founded in California in February 2005
Launched in December 2005
Founders are Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, Jawed Karim
Time magazine voted YouTube best invention of 2006
Google bought YouTube for $1.65bn in October 2006
YouTube hosts over 100 million videos.

Richard Williams has launched 'Franchise News 24' an online channel dedicated to the multi-billion pound franchising industry.

This sort of cheap niche broadcasting may turn out to be highly profitable, says Claire Beale, editor of Campaign magazine: "Potentially all of this leads to the holy grail for advertisers, allowing them to talk to exactly the right sort of consumers who are interested in their products in a way that with old media you couldn't really do."

Writer and broadcaster Clive James, who for years was one of the most trenchant observers of the television scene, has also branched out into the new world of internet broadcasting.

His filmed interviews with figures from the arts are available to view on his website.

Since he started doing them, satellite channel Artsworld has entered into an agreement to broadcast them on its channel as well.

It is an indication of how the lines between "old" and "new" broadcasting are getting blurred.

Big bang for a few bucks

The rapid rise of internet broadcasters like YouTube shows how quickly the face of broadcasting is changing.

This represents a dilemma for established broadcasters.

I haven't posted my own video on-line yet, but like any self-respecting ten year old, my son has
Elizabeth Daniel, Open University

"Traditional media owners are very threatened by the internet," says Claire Beale.

"You won't find a media owner out there now who doesn't have a business model that includes the internet and how they are going to take their brand online."

But however the big media players react to the online upstarts, one thing is certain.

DIY TV is here to stay because of one inescapable fact: anyone can have an audience of millions at the cost of virtually nothing.

The Money Programme: Coming to your screen - DIY TV; on Friday, 16 February, at 1900 UK time on BBC 2


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