Arif Durrani: Channel 4 is on a roll

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Arif Durrani: C4 is on a roll
Arif Durrani: C4 is on a roll

So it's caipirinhas all round at Horseferry Road, then, as Channel 4 builds on the success of last year's London Paralympic Games to secure a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Winning the TV rights for the Paralympics in Brazil and the Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia in 2014 is another milestone for the resurgent broadcaster. It comes on the back of brokering a more favourable airtime deal with WPP’s Group M after a very public stand-off at the start of the year.

It is the first time the International Paralympic Committee has awarded a two-Game deal to any TV station, and comes despite the BBC’s best efforts.

'It is significant that the BBC has been ousted again by C4 as the flag-bearer for minority voices'

A BBC spokesperson confirms the broadcaster submitted "a very competitive bid", having openly regretted not securing the London contract. Logistically, there would have been efficiencies in covering both the Olympics and Paralympics – especially in light of the 11,000-mile round-trip from London to Rio.

It is also significant, from a remit and prominence point of view, that the BBC has been ousted again by C4 as the flag-bearer for minority voices.

The commercial broadcaster’s record audiences for London 2012 and its award-winning 'Meet the Superhumans' campaign are credited with positively changing attitudes to disability among more than two-thirds of those surveyed after the Games.

The broadcaster now hopes to build on this, and any commercial partners will have the opportunity to similarly play a lead role. C4’s commercial chief, Jonathan Allan, makes no qualms about how significant the leaps of faith made by BT and Sainsbury’s had been before London 2012.

He says: "Both Sochi and Rio represent exciting commercial opportunities and we look forward to starting early conversations with sponsors and advertisers to plan how we might create value for them through a range of ideas and innovations."

With its new structure and management team now in place, and with the goodwill of the country behind it, C4 feels like it’s on a bit of a roll.


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