Are you one of the many Canberrans who has missed ABC 7.30 ACT and its presenter Chris Kimball since the program’s demise in late 2014? Lament no more.
Kimball is back on our screens as anchor of a new independent online TV program called Capital Inc., and the first episode has just been released.
The program features a panel discussion format along the lines of Insiders, The Drum or The Project, but all the conversation revolves around the nation’s capital, with March topics including nature strip laws, the development of the city to the lake precinct and the problem of alcohol-fuelled violence in Civic.
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Kimball has enjoyed being back in front of the cameras.
“It’s a really good group of people that are involved, it’s very comfortable to be in that environment again, and especially with people who are all there for the same reason, to provide another vehicle to bring local issues to light,” he says.
As CEO of Snowy Hydro SouthCare Rescue Helicopter Trust these days himself, Kimball notes that all of those involved in Capital Inc. have day jobs but have committed to the program on top of their busy professional lives.
“There’s so much goodwill that’s gone into it … this is something that involves a lot of people who see the value in telling Canberra stories.
“There are fewer opportunities to talk about Canberra issues … to talk about what those stories mean to our community and go a behind those stories a little bit.”
Capital Inc. is the brainchild of Newcast founder Damien Maher, a born-and-bred Canberran who lived in Melbourne, Sydney and Sweden before settling back in his home town.
Maher is a former head of video for Fairfax who has also worked for the ABC in the press gallery and freelanced in news production in Australia and overseas. He is now managing director of Newcast, providing video production and live streaming services to corporate clients.
The digital video production expert says he noticed as soon as he returned to Canberra that the city’s formerly vibrant local news scene had diminished in his absence, and decided to use his skills and resources to fill the gap by producing a news panel program with a local focus.
“There were no alternative news sources around,” Maher said. “I saw an opening for a show like this.”
Maher approached Her Canberra founder Amanda Whitley and Canberra Times journalist Emma Macdonald to ask whether they’d join as panellists.
“They both really got what I wanted to do,” Maher says. “We approached Chris [Kimball] and he was up for presenting too.”
Kimball and the panellists (freelance social justice journalist Ginger Gorman and Mix106.3 presenter Kristen Henry also feature in the first month) are all volunteering their services to the project, too.
“The only way this show works is to do it voluntarily,” Maher says.
While it costs his business between $5000 and $7000 to produce and distribute an episode, Maher anticipates there will be benefits for Newcast (and the panellists) in terms of profile.
He plans to film a discussion on four to six topics on the third Friday of each month and release an episode featuring one of the topics each Wednesday at noon. The first topic, available today, is the possibility of lockout laws in the capital.
Maher plans to move to a live format once Newcast has an idea of peak audience viewing times. This will allow live interaction, Q&A-style, though episodes will still be repackaged for weekly publication on YouTube.
Capital Inc. may also feature special guests – such as Chief Minister Andrew Barr, Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Hanson or Greens Leader Shane Rattenbury – in the lead-up to the ACT election campaign later in the year.