More4 looks like a winner as Channel 4 gives up on sport

Once again, the agency community was conspicuous by its absence from the Edinburgh TV Festival. What makes this all the more surprising is that agencies have collectively been producing record quantities of hot air about becoming programme-makers in their own right. Perhaps they were all watching the cricket, writes Jeremy Lee.

With the exception of PHD, no-one seemed prepared to sacrifice their bank holiday weekend to hear about some of the macro-issues facing UK TV. In fairness, the organisers made only a token effort to address the issue of advertising. There was much less than in previous years - nothing but a hastily organised session on advertiser-funded programming, relegated to Sunday's graveyard shift.

That said, there were some revelations that should be of interest to the advertising world (although none of them came from Tony Blair's "blue skies" thinker Lord (John) Birt, who delivered what will be probably be remembered as one of the worst keynote MacTaggart lectures of all time).

Once again, it was Channel 4 that produced the surprises, with details of the imminent launch of its More4 channel. While the creation of yet another digital TV channel to join the other 480-plus already cluttering the electronic programme guide is normally an event that barely warrants the slightest twitch of an eyebrow, More4 looks a little bit different.

Andy Duncan, the Channel 4 chief executive, unveiled his plans for Channel 4's newest offspring. It kicks off on 10 October with a drama based on David Blunkett's affair with The Spectator's publisher, Kimberley Quinn. It looks like being a provocative piece - Duncan revealed that the litigious Blunkett had been in touch over its content.

While the channel will also have a daily news bulletin, this is little more than a thin veil of respectability that will give More4 the right to be classed as a public service channel, meaning it will be elevated up the all-important EPG.

The rest of the schedule looks like being the sort of thing the BBC should be showing but gave up on years ago. There are modest ambitions for More4 - Kevin Lygo,Channel 4's director of programmes, says he hopes to achieve a share of viewing in the order of just 0.5 per cent, which is similar to BBC4 at launch. But More4 looks like being a winner.

On the reverse side of Channel 4's coin, what was also striking, given England's victory over Australia at Trent Bridge, was that once this Ashes series ends it will have no real sport in its schedule at all.

In fact, the real irony is that its only sports show is The Guardian Sport Show, a piece of branded content funded in part by The Guardian and through PHD. Perhaps the organisers and other media agencies will show more interest in advertising next year.

If you have an opinion on this or any other issue raised on Brand Republic, join the debate in the Forum.