Isaacs: 'C4 must end its youth obsession'

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The Independent Online

Channel 4's first chief executive, Sir Jeremy Isaacs, warns today that the channel has become obsessed with the youth market and its own corporate identity.

In an impassioned plea for the channel to recapture its founding spirit, Sir Jeremy, who established its innovative and radical profile in the early Eighties, laments the number of "Big Brother clones" in the current programming. And he reminds the present regime at Channel 4 that there are intelligent people over the age of 35 who want to be entertained and informed.

Writing in the media section of The Independent today, Sir Jeremy urges that whoever becomes the new chief executive, after the resignation of Michael Jackson, should rein back the influence of the marketing department. He says: "The power and influence of marketing in the councils of C4 has increased, is increasing and ought to be diminished ... The C4 brand is all."

Channel 4, says Sir Jeremy, is too concerned with reaching viewers aged 18 to 35, and feels it must "single-mindedly" commission programmes that suit "laddish or yobbish" tastes.

"We broadsheet-readers, we licence-payers over 35, have a claim on public-service broadcasters to cater for our needs, and for that, at this moment, we heavily depend on C4," he says.

"The task is to satisfy different viewers of different ages and different mind-sets, not to burnish a brand. Broadcasting is for viewers, after all."