Obliged by act of Parliament to “innovate and experiment,” Channel 4 has, since its birth in 1982, been the UK’s most pioneering commercial television broadcaster. Its arrival broadened the meaning, function and operations of public service broadcasting in the UK, with a particular focus on minorities and pushing boundaries, political and creative. In the late 1990s, though, it was under increasing threat from specialist pay-TV services that could more accurately target its audiences. As a commercially funded channel with public service responsibilities, Channel 4 was under increasing pressure to be financially independent and fulfil a challenging remit. Its response to a threatened income and increasing competition was to diversify its portfolio into various media related businesses, particularly taking advantage of the arrival of digital television to expand its offer. The subtitle of the Corporation’s 2000 Annual report, ‘More than a Television Channel’ indicates the confidence, optimism and boldness with which this expansion was approached.The rapid expansion of the channel’s portfolio in a time of relative confidence in the commercial viability of the television industry was to be reversed only a few years later, when, after it failed to produce the returns it was designed for, 4Ventures was drastically scaled back, and Channel 4 refocused its efforts on the core broadcast channel.Channel 4 therefore offers a test case in the limits of convergence as a strategy for survival for British broadcasters at the arrival of digital television. This paper focuses specifically on the areas of Channel 4’s strategy that pertained to one of the broadcaster’s particular strengths: film culture. It explores one of the film offshoots of 4Ventures: FilmFour Ltd, the film finance, production, sales and distribution company and how its failure to find a commercial hit mirrors the general problems for a commercial public service broadcaster in expanding to become a convergent television company.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Channel 4, FilmFour, convergence, UK television industry, UK film industry, digital television
Publisher Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.18146/2213-0969.2014.jethc065
Journal VIEW Journal
Rights Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).
Note VIEW Journal of European Television History and Culture; Vol 3, No 6 (2014); 5-13
Citation
Andrews, Hannah. (2014). ‘More Than a Television Channel’: Channel 4, FilmFour and a Failed Convergence Strategy. VIEW Journal, 3(6), 5–13. doi:10.18146/2213-0969.2014.jethc065