Media: Did you see the TV revolution?: Points of view: four prominent TV gurus say what they think of the Channel 4 show so far
Wednesday 28 October 1992
CHANNEL 4 made the case for hour-long news. It showed unedited opinion could make a valuable contribution to television. It broadened the world market from which programmes could be bought. It gave new life to the TV film in Britain - indeed the feature film, in a modest way.
Whether the remit can be maintained under the new dispensation is the test the board faces. But the channel is admirably positioned to survive. It's got the right sort of audience and audience levels and continues to invent things and cunningly mix them with more familiar programmes. I give Michael Grade high marks for the position the channel is in. I wouldn't want to be doing his job now. I've done what I could there and I'm now doing what I can elsewhere. And I'm learning to garden.
Jeremy Isaacs is general director of the Royal Opera House.
THE commercial future of the channel absolutely depends on our ability to continue to provide viewers with a real choice. But it has to be a choice they actually want to exercise. We're not in the business not to get any viewers, which seems to be some people's idea of what C4 should be.
I've had criticism since I arrived here, but not from anybody that matters, frankly. I'll always listen to constructive ideas. I won't tolerate criticism about why isn't it like it was in the old days, or people who dream about a channel that never existed. Why shouldn't the channel change? Whoever succeeds me will change it, too.
But why should we change when things are going so well for us? To copy ITV? That would be commercial suicide. We have a winning formula.
Michael Grade is chief executive of Channel 4.
THE change in the broadcasting climate means the age of innocence is past. The ability to pioneer new paths was peculiar to that moment and changed the rest of broadcasting.
The whole question of the independent sector has transformed the industry and C4 is where it was nurtured. It was a catalyst for a lot that's been delivered on the screen since. But not any more, frankly. In the early days things that would never have got on to television before got on to C4. Some would say that was the depressing side of it, others that it was exhilarating. Since then C4 has changed, and so has BBC 2. The journeys the two channels have taken have made for some convergence. I'd like to feel there's still space for two adventurous channels in British television.
Alan Yentob is controller of BBC 2.
THE other evening I followed Michael Grade as an after-dinner speaker and I imagined he'd asked me what I'd be without C4. My reply was: 'A judge, thank you very much.' But I feel great affection for C4.
Originally, I did Whose Line is it Anyway? on the radio and it was taken up by C4, although it might eventually have got on the BBC. But C4 has been around while there's been a huge new area of what for a week was called 'alternative comedy', and it has been able to pick up on that.
It amazes me that people have such strong loyalties towards one channel or another. It means C4's audiences remain fairly small. It's the US comedies I find striking. These are huge shows in America but on C4 they get only 4 or 5 million viewers.
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