I feel sorry for little ol Channel 4. When I used to be a youngster it was without question the Channel to which I was glued. As a student I spent most mornings watching T4 and the weekend gormlessley absorbed by the Hollyoaks omnibus. Those were the days when I didn’t feel it was a waste of life to watch Big Brother, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Playing it Straight or An Average Joe. But when Simon and Miquita quit Pop World, it was all over for me.
I’m still holding onto my youth and am definitely not past it yet but feel like I can get my TV sustenance from elsewhere. I don’t actually have one but choose instead to watch on demand services from iPlayer, 4OD (I still have a penchant for the occasional property show), ITV and Five. This may be where the problem has arisen. TV ad revenues have been in decline since the 90s, cable and Internet give advertisers way more choice and this, combined with the ‘yoof ‘ of today watching TV less and less poor ol Channel 4 is now in a bit of a pickle. (Not, as Sandi Toksvig joked, because the bottom has dropped out of the property programme market)
So Ofcom have stepped in. Channel 4, without the monies from TV advertising to fund its public service broadcasting obligations, needs to become part of a bigger entity in order to act as young challenger/alternative voice to the Beeb and hopefully improve the standard of news, arts and current affairs programming. ITV and Five would be free of its public service obligations in order that they can focus on becoming strong commercial networks.
Catch this clip on Youtube which features Ofcom’s CEO Ed Richards which explains the findings http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=6B9uD-clUQ0
News reports seem to show that Andy Duncan, CEO of Channel 4 is pretty adverse to merging with Five. More recently a joint venture between Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide (the commercial arm of the BBC) which could see BBC Worldwide selling Channel 4s programmes abroad or working in partnership to for UKTV .
We’re left with the public service broadcasting equivalent of a cliff hanger. Come back next time to continue the story.