Channel 4

channel4Channel 4 is a UK public-service television broadcaster which began working on 2 November 1982. Although commercially self-funded, it is ultimately publicly owned; originally a subsidiary of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA), the station is now owned and operated by the Channel Four Television Corporation, a public body established in 1990, coming into operation in 1993.

With the conversion of the Wenvoe transmitter to Digital on 31st March 2010, Channel 4 will become a national TV channel, after almost 28 years. The channel was established to provide a fourth television service to the UK that would break the duopoly of the Licence Fee-funded BBC’s two established services and the single commercial broadcasting network, ITV.

Channel 4 enjoys almost universal coverage in the UK and some neighbouring countries and a significant audience share, despite having seen new competition with the growth of cable, satellite and digital services. Channel 4 was established with, and continues to hold, a remit of public service obligations which it must fulfil. The remit changes periodically, as dictated by various broadcasting and communications acts, and is regulated by the various authorities Channel 4 has been answerable to; originally the IBA, then the ITC and now Ofcom.The preamble of the remit as per the Communications Act 2003 states that:

“The public service remit for Channel 4 is the provision of a broad range of high quality and diverse programming which, in particular: Demonstrates innovation, experiment and creativity in the form and content of programmes; Appeals to the tastes and interests of a culturally diverse society; makes a significant contribution to meeting the need for the licensed public service channels to include programmes of an Educational nature and other programmes of educative value; and exhibits a distinctive character.”

Website: www.channel4.com


History

c4In 1980 Britain had three television channels: BBC1, BBC2 and ITV. The 1980 Broadcasting Act began the process of adding a fourth, and Channel 4 was formally created by an Act of Parliament in 1982.
After some weeks of test broadcasts it began scheduled transmissions on November 2, 1982. From the very beginning, the channel set out to provide an alternative to the existing three channels. In doing so it sometimes, in the eyes of its critics overstepped the boundaries of acceptability, but it has arguably led to a liberalisation of the UK television industry.

Programming such as the “red triangle” series, The Tube, and Network 7 often straddled the boundary between being pioneering and being beyond the pale. Initially, the station was managed by the Independent Broadcasting Authority through subscription from the ITV franchise holders. In return, advertising on the channel (and advertising revenue) was handled by the ITV regions, thus overcoming any problems a public service broadcaster might have in attracting commercial advertisers. The 1990 Broadcasting Act altered the organisation of Channel 4, transforming it into a public corporation with a board partly appointed by the new Independent Television Commission.

While its original remit was preserved, the channel now had to manage its own advertising (a potential disaster for a public service broadcaster), with a ‘safety net’ guaranteed minimum income should the revenue fall too low (which it so far has not). This safety net was funded by large insurance payments which the company had to make to the ITV companies. These premiums were phased out by the government in 1998.



Channel Four Television Corporation

As an organisation, Channel 4 is known as the Channel Four Television Corporation, a statutory corporation, though this form is more recent than the station itself, having previously been the Channel Four Television Company, a subsidiary of the IBA, between 1982 and 1993.
Towards the end of the 1980s, the government began a radical process of re-organisation of the commercial broadcasting industry, which was written onto the statute books by means of the Broadcasting Act 1990. Significantly, this meant the abolition of the IBA, and hence the Channel Four Television Company. The result led to the creation of a corporation to own and operate the channel, which would have a greater deal of autonomy and would eventually go on to establish its other operations.

The new corporation, which became operational in 1993, remained publicly owned and was regulated by the new Independent Television Commission (ITC), created under the same act. The ITC and its duties were later replaced by Ofcom, which like its predecessor is responsible for appointing the Corporation’s board, in agreement with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
In terms of the station’s remit and other duties, the creation of the corporation meant little change, however the new corporation would have to manage its own advertising, rather than this being carried out on its behalf by the local ITV contractors.


Carriage

Due to its special status as a public service broadcaster with a specific remit, it is afforded free carriage on the terrestrial platforms, in contrast with other broadcasters such as ITV and Channel 5.
Channel 4 is also available overseas: Some viewers in the Republic of Ireland and parts of the European mainland, have been able to receive terrestrial transmissions from Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and some overseas cable networks, especially in the Republic of Ireland, have carried the service.
From 4 December 2006 Channel 4 was officially available to Sky viewers in the Republic of Ireland; some programmes, mainly imports, are not aired on this channel variant, due to Channel 4 not owning the relevant broadcast rights within the country.

Channel 4 broadcasts on Digital Terrestrial (Freeview), Sky and Freesat (satellite), and on Virgin Media (Cable), the channel is also available live online (with a UK ip address), through services such as TVCatchup. 
Channel 4 also makes some of its programming available ‘on demand’ via cable and the internet through 4oD.
Channel 4 is also broadcast on satellite free-to-air on both the Sky and Freesat platforms, it can also be received on any digital satellite receiver.


Programming

c4newsChannel 4 is a “publisher-broadcaster”, meaning that it commissions or “buys” all of its programming from companies independent of itself, and was the first broadcaster in the United Kingdom to do so on any significant scale. This had the consequence of starting an industry of production companies that did not have to rely on owning an ITV licence in order to see their programmes air, though since Channel 4, external commissioning has become regular practice on the numerous stations that have launched since, as well as on the BBC and in ITV (where a quota of 25% minimum of total output has been imposed since the 1990 Broadcasting Act came into force).

Ironically, having been the first British broadcaster to completely commission its core product from third parties, and after 25 years in-house, Channel 4 will now become the last terrestrial broadcaster to outsource its transmission and playout operations (to Red Bee Media). The requirement to obtain all content externally is stipulated in its licence. Additionally, Channel 4 also began a trend of owning the copyright and distribution rights of the programmes it aired, in a manner that is similar to the major Hollywood studios’ ownership of television programs that they did not directly produce. Thus, although Channel 4 does not produce programmes, many are seen as belonging to it.

Channel 4 also pioneered the concept of stranded programming, where seasons of programmes following a common theme would be aired and promoted together. Some would be very specific, and run for a fixed period of time; the 4 Mation season, for example, showed innovative animation. Other, less specific strands, were (and still are) run regularly, such as T4, a strand of programming aimed at teenagers, on weekend mornings (and weekdays during school/college holidays); Friday Night Comedy, a slot where the channel would pioneer its style of comedy commissions, 4Music (now a separate channel) and 4Later, an eclectic collection of offbeat programmes transmitted to a cult audience in the early hours of the morning. In its earlier years, Red Triangle was the name given to the airing of certain risqué art-house films due to the use of a red triangle DOG in the upper right of the screen, dubbed as being pornographic by many of Channel 4’s critics, whilst general broadcasting of films on the station for many years came under the banner of Film on Four prior to the launch of the FilmFour brand and station in the late 1990s.
Its critically acclaimed news service, Channel 4 News, is supplied by ITN whilst its long-standing investigative documentary, Dispatches, causes perennial media attention.



Channel 4 HD

c4hdOn 10 December 2007, Channel 4 launched a high definition television simulcast of Channel 4 on Sky+ HD, after British Sky Broadcasting agreed to contribute toward the channel’s satellite distribution costs. On 31 July 2009, Virgin Media added Channel 4 HD on channel 146 as a part of the M pack. On 25 March 2010 Channel 4 HD appeared on Freeview channel 52 with a placeholding caption, ahead of a commercial launch on 30 March 2010, coinciding with the commercial launch of Freeview HD.

On 19 April 2011, Channel 4 HD was added to Freesat on channel 126. As a consequence, the channel moved from being free-to-view to free-to-air on satellite during March 2011. The channel carries the same schedule as Channel 4, broadcasting programmes in HD when available. Initially this has been mostly American imports (such as Ugly Betty for example) and movies, however, original programming such as Hollyoaks and Skins have been broadcast in HD. Although the intention is to increase the amount of “home grown” material being broadcast in HD. It has been announced as the UK’s first full-time high definition channel from a terrestrial broadcaster.



E4

e4E4 is a channel on British digital television, launched as a pay-TV companion to Channel 4 on 18 January 2001. The “E” stands for entertainment, and the channel is mainly aimed at the lucrative 15–35 age group. Programming includes US imports such as The O.C., Smallville, Veronica Mars, The Cleveland Show, Glee, The Sopranos, Everwood, What About Brian?, Desperate Housewives, How I Met Your Mother, 90210, Gilmore Girls, One Tree Hill, Scrubs, The Big Bang Theory and British shows such as Shameless, Hollyoaks, Skins, The Inbetweeners and Misfits.
Some of the imports, e.g. Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty are screened on E4 up to one week ahead of their Channel 4 broadcasts. Its most successful broadcast to date was on 11 October 2010 when an episode of The Inbetweeners pulled in over 3.7 million viewers. E4 uses the voiceover of Peter Dickson to advertise its programmes.

E4HD is also available to Sky+HD viewers, the channel is a simulcast of the core E4 channel with a proportion of programmes produced and transmitted in the HD format.
E4HD is currently available to subscribers of Sky+HD and virgin Media, there are no confirmed plans to broadcast E4HD on Freesat or Freeview HD.

Website: www.e4.com



More4

more4More4 is a digital television channel, run by British broadcaster Channel 4, that launched on 10 October 2005. It is carried on Freeview, on satellite broadcasters Freesat and Sky, UK IPTV broadcaster TalkTalk TV and on UK cable network Virgin Media and in the Republic of Ireland cable networks including UPC.
More4 centres around lifestyle, documentary, and arts programming, and competes with the BBC’s similar offering, BBC Four. More4 airs from 9:00 am until about 3:00 am. The channel’s annual budget is £33 million, of which £20 million is earmarked for original programming. Peter Dale, Channel 4’s current head of documentary events and the new channel’s chief said it would be “television that restarts the conversation”.
To encourage new viewers to try the new service, Channel 4 moved its first-run showing of The West Wing, showing season 6 and 7 back to back, from its sister digital station E4 to More4 and Without a Trace from Channel 4. The channel also carries (or has carried) other American imports such as The Daily Show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and repeats of Channel 4 programmes including game show Deal or No Deal, reality TV show Brat Camp, investigative series Dispatches, and the controversial BodyShock. Daytime content includes classic films and reruns of shows such as Hill Street Blues and ER.

The channel also carries Morgan Spurlock’s reality TV show 30 Days and American dramas such as The Closer. The channel featured a nightly discussion programme Starkey’s Last Word hosted by David Starkey during the Autumn line-up. This show was originally called The Last Word and hosted alternately by Stanley Johnson, Mark Dolan, Hardeep Singh Kohli and David Mitchell and occasional special guest hosts such as Morgan Spurlock. On midweek days, it shows hour long and feature length documentaries including Channel 4’s Cutting Edge films.
Having shown all five weekday editions of The Daily Show since More4’s launch, in January 2011 the channel scaled back its commitment to one episode a week in order to increase investment in its arts programming. There are plans to launch More4 HD, though no launch date has yet been announced.
From January 2012, More4 will get a whole new look.

Website: More4



Film4

film4Film4 is a free digital television channel in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, owned and operated by Channel 4, that screens films.
The channel frequently has themed nights or seasons in which a number of films centred around one genre, director or actor are shown. As Channel 4 also owns a film production company, Film4 Productions, it shows many of its in-house productions. Occasional non-film (but film-related) programmes are also shown.
Wherever possible, films are shown in their correct aspect ratio. No digital on-screen graphics are superimposed. Under UK broadcasting rules, it was able to screen most films unedited and in earlier timeslots when it was a subscription channel, but these concessions were lost when it became free-to-air, and more adult material is now confined to after the 9pm watershed.
Film4 is available on Freeview and on the Astra 2D satellite free-to-air, it is along with the timeshift version, Film4+1 available on both the Sky and Freesat platforms. Film4 does not use Digital Onscreen Graphics (DOGs).

Website: www.film4.com



4Seven

4seven4seven launched on 4 July 2012 at 7.00 pm. According to Channel 4, it was created in response to its viewers saying that with so much choice they sometimes missed the best programmes, despite some having PVRs and access to on demand services. 4seven launched with 20 hours of content in the schedule per day. In the 8.00 pm and 10.00 pm slots the channel broadcasts a repeat of shows from the previous day that have created a critical buzz in newspapers, chatter on social media through Twitter and Facebook and reaction on the overnight log of comments kept by the broadcaster. The 11.00 pm slot is used to repeat the programme shown on Channel 4 at 9.00 pm, which air again on 4seven at 9.00 pm the following day.

The rest of the programmes on 4seven are reruns of the most popular ones of the week. Weekends are devoted to multiple repeats of the best-rated programmes of the past seven days. The service was originally reported under the working title of ‘Project Shuffle’, though it was announced on 8 March 2012, that the name would be ‘4seven’. The channel was originally set to launch by June 2012, however it was subsequently reported to be launching later in the summer. On 22 May 2012, it was confirmed that 4seven would launch on 4 July 2012.

The channel launched across all major TV platforms in the UK, with agreements in place for carriage on Freeview, Freesat, Sky and Virgin TV. The channel indirectly replaced the temporary More4 +2 on Sky. While on Freeview, a placeholder for 4seven appeared on channel 47 in post-digital switchover areas on 2 April 2012.

Website: 4seven



4Music

4music-stripes4Music is a music and entertainment channel in the United Kingdom and on some digital television providers in the Republic of Ireland – its web component can be found at www.4Music.com with its own Facebook and Twitter pages.
The channel has a unique programme mix: screening exclusive live events, original series, unmisable performances and a range of entertainment programmes all complemented by an eclectic mix of new and classic video content.

4Music launched on 15 August 2008 with the world premiere of Kylie’s X Tour and live coverage from V Festival. It features many high-profile faces from the T4 and 4Music family such as Alexa Chung, Nick Grimshaw, Miquita Oliver and Steve Jones, as well as presenter-led shows from contemporary artists such as Girls Aloud and Kaiser Chiefs.
4Music is the ultimate destination for music TV. 4Music is now the home for music/celebrity orientated shows and comedies that were once shown on Channel 4.
It is available on Freeview, Virgin Media and on Sky as part of the music pack. The channel broadcasts 24 hours a day. There have been rumours that Channel 4 have plans to make the channel available on Freesat in the future, this has not been confirmed by the broadcaster.

Website: www.4music.com



+1′ Channels

Channel 4 runs time-shift variants of all its services (excluding 4Music and Channel 4 HD), including Channel 4 +1 since 20 August 2007, across all digital platforms.
In common with many other broadcasters, these channels output exactly the same programmes and continuity as was broadcast an hour previously, and are titled with the station name followed by a “+1” suffix.
Channel 4 +1, E4 +1 and More4 +1 all carry a “+1” indication onscreen. There was some concern about how it would be indicated on Channel 4 +1 as Channel 4 does not carry its own on-screen graphic. Eventually, a “+1” symbol that is derived from the Channel 4 logo was unveiled. However, it should be noted that neither Film4 or Film4 +1 carry on-screen graphics.



4oD – 4 On Demand
4od4oD is a video on demand service from Channel 4. Launched in November 2006, 4oD stands for “4 on Demand”. The service offers a variety of programmes recently shown on Channel 4, E4, More4 or from their archives. However some programmes and movies are not available due to rights issues. The cable and IPTV versions are operated through an appropriate set-top box whilst the internet variant can be accessed via websites such as Channel4.com.
4oD generated around 215 million long-form video views on all platforms where it is available in the first half of 2011, making Channel 4 the biggest UK broadcaster in the video on-demand market during the period. 4oD is the main source of on demand programmes from Channel 4, E4 and More4, the catch up service currently lasts 30 days and the archive has thousands of hours of programming.

As of April 2009, the internet version is fully available to Windows, Mac and Linux users with Adobe Flash Player installed. The “catch-up” service offers content free of charge a programme for thirty days after its broadcast on Channel 4. Not all content is available to Irish users, due to licensing restrictions, however the majority of the programming is available. Registered users can build playlists, schedule shows, maintain a record of what they have watched, save their favourites in a single place and receive in-page reminders from Channel 4 whenever a new episode is available for them to watch. Other features include better full-page viewing and optimised site navigation during viewing.

Website: 4oD

Share Button