David Elstein

Channel 5's chief executive responds to Jane Robins, who suggested that a change in ownership had put his future and his formula for the channel in doubt
Click to follow
The Independent Online

To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of my demise as chief executive of Channel 5 are much exaggerated - at least, I believe so! Your article ("Is this the end for Elstein's Channel 5?", 19 September) contained much that was accurate about the channel, but much that was misleading. There have been many months of discussion within Channel 5 as to whether the time is now right to boost the modest programme budget, in an effort to achieve an even larger audience share. This is nothing to do with image, breadth of programming or a "more grown-up approach".

To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of my demise as chief executive of Channel 5 are much exaggerated - at least, I believe so! Your article ("Is this the end for Elstein's Channel 5?", 19 September) contained much that was accurate about the channel, but much that was misleading. There have been many months of discussion within Channel 5 as to whether the time is now right to boost the modest programme budget, in an effort to achieve an even larger audience share. This is nothing to do with image, breadth of programming or a "more grown-up approach".

Dawn Airey never said that Channel 5 was about the three Fs. What she actually said - in response to such a suggestion - was that it was about a lot more. Indeed, live football and erotica constitute less than 3 per cent of the Channel 5 schedule. It is not "the press" that we laugh at when Channel 5 is vilified for peddling "filth" - just the Daily Mail.

RTL certainly owns 65 per cent of Channel 5, but that does not bestow control. Our other shareholder, United News and Media, enjoys substantial minority rights. And your reporter should not take at face value suggestions that RTL is unhappy with what she terms "sleazy" content: a quick glance at RTL's Continental stations would soon disabuse her of such an idea.

The fact is that the current modest volume of erotica in the schedule was formally and deliberately approved by the channel's four shareholders, two of which now constitute the RTL holding in Channel 5. Dawn Airey's skills, determination and relentless attention to detail have been key to Channel 5's success so far: if she is given the means to drive our share from 6 per cent to 8 per cent or more, she will find the challenge irresistible. And I will enjoy continuing to help her to meet that challenge.

Comments