Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Channel 4 Changes Direction

It seems apparent that Channel 4 has decided that it prefers becoming a commercial entity in London rather than being sent to Manchester or Birmingham as a public broadcster.

The channel, paying £25m for a programme format, sans presenter, in a bidding war with the UK's other PBS shows how out of control it is.

Channel 4 has always been a rather wonderful freak show that could only exist in the creative hotpot that is the UK. It has played a hugely important role in fostering creativity and programme making and has always been in the vanguard of TV innovation.

But paying £25m for the UK's most popular TV programme, a baking competition of all things, is insane. (As an aside I can just imagine someone in the past recent taking this format to C4; the laughter would still be resounding..l)

In the world of Netflix and You Tube, where UK TV is becoming a marginal activity, Channel 4 seems an anachronism - albeit less so than the riddiclous and still hugely self important BBC.

TV distribution (aka broadcasting) is now a big boys game which only the Americas can afford. There is a chink for an international play around top UK programme making, but 350 million people are always going to trump 60 million.

So, can Channel 4 take its brand international? It certainty has shown no innovation online (it doesn't even simulcast).  But it has done well with curation of international box sets and, of course, in its commissioning.

However, I'm not sure that anyone involved in Channel 4 really understands what they have done or what will happen to them next. Did they really deliberately overplay their hand ?