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Public Service Broadcasting - is C4's plea for funding heard by the public?

Channel 4 is planning to involve government, viewers and advertisers in a review of its public service remit later this year. The first stage will be internal and led by Andy Duncan, the broadcaster's chief executive. He said the review would question whether Channel 4's current remit adequately reflects its wide-ranging public role. Here you can see a short video on what viewers think about Channel 4.

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The second stage of the review will involve discussions with key stakeholders including Ofcom, government, viewers, producers, advertisers and other interest groups, writes Nikki Sandison. The review is likely to look at the broadcaster’s attachment to reality TV after two incidents of racism on ‘Big Brother’. The show’s audience for its key 16 to 34-year-old adult demographic has so far fallen by 22% on last year. The series started with a 45% share of viewing for this market, compared with 57% for last year’s launch show, but this fell to just 20% for the third Friday eviction night, compared with 42% last year. Although audiences picked up after ITV’s ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ ended, Big Brother had a share of only 33% of 16-34s for last Friday’s fourth eviction night, compared with 46% last year. A spokesman for Channel 4 said: Big Brother is an exceptionally strong brand and continues to perform incredibly well with a young, upmarket audience.

Channel 4 plans to become the first broadcaster to launch a time-shifted version of its core terrestrial channel across all digital TV platforms. This could be seen as a wise financial move because according to figures released by Ofcom last week, digital penetration has hit 80% and with the digital switchover process starting next year, audiences and therefore advertising budgets, are under further threat with the increased number of channels. The launch of ‘plus-ones’ (channels running one hour later than the main channel) has become an established way of protecting audiences on the core channel. E4+1 and Film4+1, each contributed 29% of audience share for their respective mother channels in all multi-channel homes in April.

The government has confirmed it is to allocate Channel 4 £14m of BBC licence fee money to help it meet the costs of digital switchover. The message was delivered by Tessa Jowell, secretary of state for media, in a speech to the Royal Television Society. She said: Despite the profound changes ahead for the television sector in the coming years, I remain convinced that the case for public service broadcasting will endure. Andy Duncan responded by saying: This is an important transitional help that will underpin our public service contribution while we work with Ofcom and the government to identify the most important forms of medium to long-term intervention.

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