Media: Analysis: The West End comes to C4

THE LAUNCH of Channel 4's new film channel next Sunday is being accompanied by what the channel's chief executive, Michael Jackson, describes as a "Freedom to See" campaign.

The channel is meeting the Independent Television Commission to lobby for more liberal regulations covering films broadcast on satellite and cable television channels.

At present, pay television channels are allowed to show only versions of films that have been approved for video distribution by the British Board of Film Classification.

For the great majority of subscription film channels, this makes very little difference. Hollywood blockbusters, despite their love of cartoon violence, leave their studios carefully edited so that they can maximise their audience and not overstep the limits that an R18 rating demands.

"The Film Four channel is unique because it is what is called in the trade a `second pay window'," says Jackson. It means we can pick and choose the films we buy; we don't have to buy packages of films from studios. We show what we want to show, not what the studios want us to buy."

It also means that Film Four will have considerably more challenging fare than most of its rivals. Film Four plans to show films such as the hard-hitting Harvey Keitel vehicle, Bad Lieutenant. In its first months it also plans screenings of films such as Kissed, in which a female mortuary attendant gets unhealthily close to her dead charges, and Man Bites Dog, a black comedy in which a documentary film crew encourages a serial killer.

"Pay television is different to broadcast television in that viewers have to make a positive choice about what they watch," says Jackson. "We already know from Channel 4 that when you explain the context of a film in detail you get far fewer complaints, because people have to choose to watch it and far fewer people who are likely to be offended wander into things."

Film Four's campaign to change the current ITC regulations has been boosted by a report commissioned by the ITC itself, which backs up Jackson's assertion that subscription viewers are more tolerant than the general viewer. First the ITC looked at the proportion of complaints it received from satellite and cable viewers. In 1997, out of 2,894 complaints only 142 were about cable or satellite programmes.

Then a research company, Millward Brown, asked 3,000 viewers about their attitudes to sex, violence and bad language on television. In every case viewers of satellite and cable television were found to be more liberal. Only a minority of cable and satellite viewers are shocked by what they see on television, and they were twice as likely as terrestrial-only viewers to agree that cable and satellite should be able to show more sex and nudity.

"We are not seeking an argument," says Jackson. "We want to go with the flow of society. And people are more tolerant and they are more diverse. We want to work with the ITC over time to explore how people tolerate films."

The other aspect of "Freedom to See" is much easier for the new channel to achieve. Because it is buying unique films, the channel can put on movies that have had little or no distribution in cinemas: "Dance Hall is the most successful Jamaican film ever made, but it has had no UK distribution," says Jackson. "The only chance to see it will be on Film Four."

Jackson also believes his new channel will bring films to people who live far away from the main arts cinemas: "It's not just about film distribution; it is about films that get shown in just one cinema in London. Living in the capital, it is easy to forget that the West End film-going experience is very different to that of the rest of the country."

Many of the channel's American independent films are already available to hire on video. In its first month,Film Four will show American films such as: Barton Fink, The Shawshank Redemption and The Usual Suspects. So its value will come when it shows more obscure films like New Zealand's Romper Stomper, Peter Blatty's The Ninth Configuration as well as art house favourites such as Hal Hartley's Trust and Peter Greenaway's Pillow Book.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music
Arts and Entertainment
Blue singer Simon Webbe will be confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing

tv
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
    What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

    What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

    Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
    Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

    Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

    Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
    Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

    Radio 1’s new top ten

    The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
    Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

    Florence Knight's perfect picnic

    Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
    Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

    Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

    The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
    Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

    Mark Hix's summery soups

    Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
    Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

    Tim Sherwood column

    I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
    Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

    Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

    The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition