C4 will maintain public status in digital future

Channel 4 has unveiled an “ambitious” blueprint of the enhanced public role it wants to fulfil in the “digital” future. The Next on 4 strategic blueprint, unveiled today (Thursday), underlines Channel 4’s commitment to maintaining its public status and calls for a new legislative framework to reflect the broadcaster’s transition to a multimedia network.

Chairman Luke Johnson says the analogue spectrum it is gifted at the moment will be “valueless” by the time the digital switchover is completed in 2012.

The broadcaster says Next on 4 is the “most exhaustive review” of its role since it came on air in 1982.

Channel 4 consulted with staff, creative and commercial partners, Government and other stakeholders as well as a YouGov survey of 11,000 viewers and users. Ad agencies including Beattie McGuinness Bungay and Mother were also invited to present to the marketing team.

The blueprint outlines how Channel 4 plans to extend its public role from broadcast into new digital media, including digital radio and online. It is launching a £50m Four Innovations for the Public (4IP) fund with a range of partners to allow audiences to be able to access high-quality content at the time and on the platform of their choosing.

Chief executive Andy Duncan (pictured) says: “Our focus on bringing creative innovation from the margins into the mainstream distinguishes Channel 4 from all our competitors. We believe digital media should allow us to deliver our creative remit with greater impact than at any time in our history.”

Media regulator Ofcom is investigating Channel 4’s future funding as part of public service broadcasting review. It said in June there was “cause for concern” about the broadcaster’s future funding and that it was “reasonably likely” the broadcaster would be loss making beyond 2010 (mw.co.uk 14 June 2007).

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