Channel 4: a fantastic asset for the country
Documentaries like Dispatches have opened our eyes to new perspectives, while comedies like Peep Show have kept us laughing and given exciting talents their big break.
Channel 4 belongs to all of us
This success is linked to Channel 4’s public service broadcasting remit – producing innovative and quality content. Many people do not realise that Channel 4 is publicly owned. It is commercially run which means it funds itself through advertising and doesn’t cost us a penny. In fact, Channel 4 makes up to £2 billion for the economy each year. Profitable and high quality – what’s not to like?
What's different about Channel 4?
“Of the £938m revenues we made last year, £600m went into content, and £430m of that into the British creative sector. That, for me, is a fantastic asset for the country." David Abraham, former Chief Executive of Channel 4
While there is nothing wrong with commercial channels like Channel 5, Channel 4 offers something unique. Channel 4’s public service mandate means it must be innovative, stimulate public debate, reflect the UK’s cultural diversity, nurture new talent, and champion alternative points of view. This is a big responsibility and has been really successful, making Channel 4 extremely popular with young people and minority audiences. The likes of Channel 5, on the other hand, don’t have to worry about all this, which can be seen in the graph below.
The risk of privatisation...
During the past year, Channel 4's free, representative and high-quality programmes have provided vital information and entertainment for all of us in our homes each night. But now the government is launching an attack on the beloved broadcaster.
Oliver Dowden, former Culture Secretary, set his sights on privatising the channel and now Nadine Dorries is looking to follow in his footsteps. The privatisation of Channel 4 would see profit prioritised over public service, opening the door to big corporate buyers. Some of Channel 4's greatest hits have been ones that all the commercial channels turned down as 'too risky'. There are many more cultural gems that will only see the light of day if the broadcaster remains in public ownership.
Our future needs more public service media, not less.