Channel 4 chief calls for dialogue on trading with advertisers

Channel 4’s new chief executive, David Abraham, has called for a “genuine partnership, as opposed to a simplistic buyer and seller relationship” in his first address to UK advertisers, made today (6 July).

David Abraham
David Abraham

He also signalled that the broadcaster is willing to look at the way it trades advertising and said: “It seems to me incredible that in a TV/media world that is changing so fast we, by and large, still use the metrics of a 1980s regional monopoly as the only way we trade.”

He asked for advertisers to share their views with the company on how airtime trading could “change over time, particularly given the huge amount of data that is available to everyone.”

Abraham, a former advertising agency executive and chief executive of UKTV, outlined his strategy for Channel 4 at the annual ISBA lunch.

He said that while Channel 4 as a publicly owned broadcaster must focus on the cultural impact of its content “we also have to ensure that it appeals to advertisers.”

He pointed out that Channel 4 is still unique in the type and volume of audience it delivers and says: “I’m absolutely focused on maintaining the quality and distinctiveness of the programming we provide and addressing those key demographics and audiences which you value so highly.”

He said that the channel needs to invest in creative content and innovation so that it is fit for purpose in the digital age. It also had to “develop a much more advanced understanding of our audiences … we have hardly scratched the surface when it comes to understanding and managing these relationships for mutual benefit.

“The aim is to fundamentally change our culture to become much more audience focused and create an even greater sense of connection with our brand in the highly competitive and converged world of fully digital media.”
The company has just signed a deal with UKTV to handle its advertising sales for channels such as Good Food and Dave.

It is also restructuring its business units and leadership team.

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