Channel 4 must screen more original programmes and reduce the
number of repeats it shows, according to new proposals from the
Independent Television Commission designed to strengthen the channel’s
public service remit.
The proposed changes follow the Government’s decision to phase out the
funding formula, by which Channel 4 handed over a portion of its revenue
to the ITV companies. With the additional money, Channel 4 will be
expected to increase its public service commitments.
From 1999, 60 per cent of Channel 4’s output must be from originally
produced programmes, 70 per cent in peak time. This compares with 53 per
cent of original productions in 1996.
At the same time, the channel must reduce the number of repeats it
broadcasts, from 43 per cent in 1996 to less than 40 per cent of total
hours, and less than 20 per cent of peak hours by 1999.
The plans are outlined in a new consultation document on revisions to
the Channel 4 licence. Chris Smith, the Secretary of State for culture,
media and sport, has insisted that amendments to the licence must be
determined by the end of this year.
The proposals place Channel 4 for the first time in a broad
multi-channel environment, not just as a foil to ITV. They stress: ’It
is now recognised that Channel 4 is a public service broadcaster with
its own culture, history and sense of purpose which also seeks to define
its role in a multi-channel environment in relation to all channels, and
not ITV alone. It provides public service and creative competition for