Agencies say C4 must stick with Grade’s lead

Michael Grade hands over the reins of Channel 4 at a time when the company is in good shape, but his successor must continue his broad interpretation of the channel’s minority remit, the ad industry warned this week.

Michael Grade hands over the reins of Channel 4 at a time when the

company is in good shape, but his successor must continue his broad

interpretation of the channel’s minority remit, the ad industry warned

this week.



Grade, who shocked the TV industry on Monday with the surprise

announcement of his resignation as chief executive of Channel 4, has

recently been accused of making the channel too commercial.



The Daily Mail labelled him ’Britain’s pornographer in chief’ and ITV

bosses attacked the channel for chasing mass-market audiences as Grade

combined a stirling track record for both audiences and ad revenues.



Channel 4 took more than 20 per cent of total TV ad revenue last year

and Grade’s approach has met with firm support from advertisers and

media buyers.



David Cuff, the broadcast director of Initiative Media, said: ’Channel

4’s remit is open to broad interpretation. Michael Grade has taken a

commercial approach and if his successor takes a less commercial stance,

that could be disastrous for advertisers.’



He warned: ’There are luvvies out there who see advertising as some sort

of evil. Channel 4 needs someone in charge who will take a business

stance when it comes to dealing with the programme market and

scheduling.’



Chris Locke, deputy managing director of the Media Centre, said that

Channel 4’s reputation for controversial programming garnered publicity

and viewers.



Locke predicted that the strength of the team beneath Grade meant that

his departure would not change the channel’s interpretation of its

remit, its culture or its approach. But he added: ’His successor will

have to look carefully at the Big Breakfast, one of the channel’s most

important commercial segments, and will have to work to ensure that, in

a multi-channel environment, Channel 4 doesn’t become just another niche

channel.’



Alan Yentob, head of production at the BBC, is touted as favourite to

succeed Grade. Media buyers would welcome Yentob’s appointment.



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