Letter: Channel 4: the viewer's friend

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The Independent Online
Sir: I have always been amazed at the poor judgement displayed by the Independent in matters relating to Channel 4. Years ago when, as its first chairman, I advocated that Channel 4 should be established as a trust separate from the ITV system, you opposed any such idea editorially. Now that Channel 4, as a statutory corporation, is flourishing on the basis of advertising revenues it earns for itself, your 'View from City Road' today insists that it needs an insurance policy from ITV against evil times.

Not even the British insurance industry would think of charging the kind of premium Channel 4 is now being forced to pay for the minimal benefits it would receive from ITV if it ever did encounter financial problems. Channel 4's board clearly does not consider it needs any such insurance policy. It was forced upon it by the 1990 Broadcasting Act despite the protests at the time of many, including myself, that such an insurance policy was neither right nor necessary.

It is time the Independent stopped being the voice of ITV and showed some concern about the public interest. The present situation in which Channel 4 may be compelled to pay pounds 500m to ITV over the next 10 years is indefensible and should be brought to an end.

Yours faithfully,


London, NW11

22 June

The writer was chairman of Channel 4 from 1980 till 1987.