Media Perspective: Glum media buyers can't dampen C4's growing optimism
A view from Jeremy Lee

Media Perspective: Glum media buyers can't dampen C4's growing optimism

The biggest laugh that Channel 4 got at its 2011 upfront presentation last week was a preview of a supposedly serious documentary featuring a dog that had a permanent erection and couldn't stop licking it to the, erm, point it had become red raw.

It's just a shame that the channel's forthcoming comedy slate didn't receive such a rapturous reception from the assembled guests.

Sky Media was first off the block for the upfronts with its annual series of agency presentations at the wine and spirits merchant Berry Bros & Rudd, where Nick Milligan, Sky Media's managing director, invited media buyers to smell his cork.

ITV held its one this week while Channel 4 hired the Freemasons' Hall last week to an audience of media agencies and advertisers. Channel 5 is the last to show its hand with a presentation next Tuesday.

While Andy Barnes, Channel 4's sales director, tried to make light of holding its upfronts in the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England, a bastion of the establishment, the ceremonial unveiling of the schedule only sought to confirm how conservative - compulsive genital-licking dogs aside - Channel 4 has started to appear.

That said, given how much Channel 4 lavished on the event - free drink, a smattering of on-air talent, tiny fashionable versions of classic party food etc - it was still a nice change to hear some optimism from the broadcaster.

Its new Supreme Being, David Abraham, also made a more upbeat assessment of Channel 4 than the sackcloth and ashes donned by his predecessor, Andy Duncan, which was also a refreshing change.

Nonetheless, many of the buyers felt unmoved by the schedule and some argued that perhaps the money spent on the event might have been better invested in programming. But then, equally, you could argue that a more cynical bunch of people you'd be hard to find and that they were never going to be jumping for joy, no matter what they were told.

There's no avoiding the fact that it's been a year of unprecedented change at all of the UK's TV companies (and you could include the BBC in that). Not one of the commercial broadcasters has not been touched by a change of management, ownership or inventory that will have a profound effect on their financial performance next year.

With that in mind, it seemed timely to conduct a survey of those cynical time-buyers and find out what they thought of the four remaining large TV sales points. So if you're interested in knowing just how vintage or otherwise their respective fare is and which of the sales houses and their various leaders, if any, is thought of as the dog's bollocks, it should all become clear in next week's issue.