The Next 30 Years of Channel 4

2nd November marked the 30th anniversary of Channel 4. Here’s an extract from an article published by Broadcast to mark the event –

How C4 must approach its next 30 years

by Dr James Bennett of Royal Holloway, University of London, derived from a 2-year study he was involved in about the role independent production companies play in the cultures and economics of Public Service Broadcasting and “its multiplatform future”.

But the cultural commitment from indies to C4’s public service remit might be under threat. Decreasing production budgets from broadcasters and the imperative to sell formats overseas as a result of producers’ retention of IP rights following the 2003 Communication Act have resulted in aversion to risk. This has the potential to undermine the creation of the kind of challenging, innovative, diverse and engaging programming that has been the hallmark of C4. Senior producers worried that younger generations lacked the skill set and training in public service modes of production that had been so pivotal to their success.

Yet a movement away from the 30 year cultural commitment to public service broadcasting would only harm UK plc: it is PSB that makes UK content unique, innovative, challenging and sellable around the world.

There remain grounds for optimism. Not least because of the cultural commitment to PSB found across so many independents, but also because of Channel 4’s investment in multiplatform production and digital platforms.

From apps that increase our awareness of sexual health – Embarrassing Bodies – to successful multiplatform ethical fishery campaign – Fish Fight – C4 has taken some its pioneering, challenging and innovative approach to public service online. And it is taking a group of talented digital producers, committed and passionate about public service, with it. If it can balance profit and public service, and its commitment to diversity of independent suppliers with the need to foster a close relationship with digital indies, C4 can help create a digital public service sector that will ensure the broadcaster’s continuing relevance for a multiplatform future.

{Extract published courtesy of Broadcast}

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