C4 looks at satellite and digital TV

Channel 4 is understood to be looking at two new services for satellite and digital TV.

C4’s sales and marketing director Stuart Butterfield has been put in charge of a team putting together proposals for the channel’s board.

The proposals include a “Channel 4 Gold”-type service, using the channel’s 14 years of library material combined with its own Film Four productions and the “classic” films it holds UK rights to. The Gold service is being proposed for analogue satellite or cable TV.

The channel is also looking at creating interactive programming for terrestrial and satellite digital TV. The channel has already taken part in interactive trials with London cable operator Videotron and is currently supplying it with an interactive version of Wanted.

Channel 4 believes that its viewers are less passive than viewers of other channels and therefore are more suited to an interactive service.

Two think-tanks – one on pro-gramming and one on ad sales and marketing – were set up to consider future services in May. Their pro-posals are expected to be presented to the C4 board in early 1997.

C4 general manager Frank McGettigan, in a speech to the City in May, raised the possibility of the channel forming alliances with other broadcasters, including BSkyB, to supply a secondary service.

Industry sources believe the channel may license its programming to satellite and digital broadcasters, rather than expose the terrestrial service to financial risk by taking an equity stake in a new venture.

Michael Grade interview, page 16

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