Channel 4 CEO says brand is still edgy

RTS: Channel 4 CEO David Abraham says his company is still the leading “edgy” broadcast brand despite the influx of alternative internet productions and the rise of non-linear viewing.

The Channel 4 boss denied the broadcaster’s sense of edge is under threat from internet brands such as Vice Magazine’s VBS.TV and YouTube, which are favoured by young audiences.

Abraham told Marketing Week at the Royal Television Society convention in Cambridge: “We don’t have the monopoly on being alternative, but we do have the impact. Our [UK] market share is 11%.”

He cited the success of programmes such as this week’s Dispatches documentary on drugs in football and 2006 drama This is England, which won a BAFTA award for best film, as examples of Channel 4’s mass-market reach, while still maintaining its alternative routes.

“Without us those directors [such as This is England director Shane Meadows] and actors would not be being heard,” he added.

Channel 4’s autumn schedule includes a documentary about being transgender, which includes footage of a man in genital surgery, called Girls Will Be Boys and Boys Will Be Girls; three one-off dramas written by comedian Charlie Brooker; a drama about a drug dealer dubbed Top Boy; and the satirical comedy Comic Strip: the Hunt for Tony Blair.

Channel 4 also launched Big Brother in the UK in 2000. The format was bought by rival Channel 5 this year, but Abraham said it has not left a hole in Channel 4’s programming and subsequent advertising revenue.

He said: “Big Brother on Channel 5 is now at just 50% of the audience it was with us – it proves the Channel 4 brand is strong.”

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