Letter: Competition and the youth audience

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The Independent Online
Sir: I was sorry to see that Tony Moss's letter (24 July), on behalf of youth programmes at the BBC, demonstrated some complacency and an unwillingness to face the facts that the ratings demonstrate. He selects the evidence with care, but it is the wrong evidence.

I, too, welcome a healthy rivalry between programmes for young people at the BBC and at Channel 4, and am delighted that Bill Hilary has joined us (as head of youth programmes) to turn up the heat. However, Channel 4 has for some time, with Stephen Garrett in charge, been providing a rather wider and richer range of programmes for young people than elsewhere, and attracting greater concentrations of this elusive target audience in the process.

Every year, Channel 4 conducts a tracking study of its audience's perception of various broadcasters. Interestingly, 41 per cent of 16- to 24-year-olds described Channel 4 as 'youthful and surprising', whereas only 11 per cent of the same age group described BBC 2 as such. A third of the same age group chose 'up to date' as a description of Channel 4, but only 9 per cent applied it to BBC 2.

Mr Moss quotes ratings for factual series and one American import. Channel 4's other youth programming is not mentioned: shows such as Secret Cabaret and Packet of Three attracted audiences of 2.5 million, and the innovative gardening series, Dig, pulled in 2.1 million enthusiastic viewers. Roseanne regularly has an audience of more than three million - more than half of whom are young people.

Yours faithfully,


Controller, Arts & Entertainment

Channel 4

London, W1