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Monday, July 24, 2006

Film 4 For Free

Today is the day that Film4 becomes free or to be more accurate an advertising funded model. Personally, I think the Channel4 business model is great and shows the direction the other state owned TV body, the BBC, should be funded long term.

Channel 4 received its’ analogue & digital spectrum for free and apart from that has no other government funding. The model is advertising driven: you don’t like Big Brother – fine, don’t watch it and Channel4 will receive less advertising income, but unlike the BBC you are not forced to pay for someone you have no intention of watching ever. Channel4 is also forced to buy 100% of its’ programmes and does so from over 300 companies, thereby encouraging the vitality of the independent production sector and not creating another bloated monster.

As its’ Chairman reports in the 2005 Accounts, Channel4 is a beacon of light for all of us public sector cynics.
Channel 4 is a highly unusual organisation. Although it remains part of the state, it behaves in many ways as an independent, entrepreneurial outfit: flexible, market-facing and irreverent. Channel 4 is a true testament to the idea that public and private can be a potent and effective mix – a fact that many other areas of the public sector are still struggling with. We are of course privileged, thanks to our gifted spectrum: but we also have to fulfil an extensive public service remit, which requires us to commission diverse, experimental and educative programmes. I believe we deliver above and beyond those requirements. Channel 4 provides more distinctive entertainment and enlightenment at less cost, to more citizens, than any equivalent body in Britain today.

UK TV Audience

Channel4 has managed to maintain its’ share of viewing despite the inexorable rise of multi-channel viewing.

UK TV Revenue

It has also managed to increase its’ share of advertising revenue and grow the amount in absolute terms from £651m in 2000 to £729m in 2005. The multi-channel strategy has taken total Channel4 revenues to £894m for 2005.

If only the BBC took a similar approach to Channel4…