ITC stresses public service element in fresh C4 proposals

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.

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

the BBC.’



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