Discussing the Merits of Channel 4 Programming

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Channel 4 was originally launched on 2nd of November 1982, from the start it came with a strong public service remit. Although it was publically owned, it was funded by adverts and had a duty to serve the minority audiences that were not being catered for by the BBC and ITV. At the time of the launch of Channel 4 the nation had become slightly despondent with the current institutions, feeling that ‘They operated in the name of the nation, but increasingly it was felt that they had come to serve their own institutional requirements, which were influenced by internal political divisions and career paths.’ (Smith, A. 1999, p.xi) Channel 4 on the other hand in the words of the then Home Secretary William Whitelaw, was to have a ‘distinctive character of its own’. (Paterson, R. 1986, p.54) Organisations such as the BBC held the role of Public Service Broadcaster, whose aim had always been to serve the public to inform, educate and entertain the public as a whole. In 1964 BBC2 was set up, their ‘brief was to make programmes for minority tastes which were being badly catered for by BBC1 and ITV.’ (Ellis, J. 2002, p.150) This was during the period of scarcity meaning it was BBC or ITV or nothing at all. BBC 2 the original channel for minority tastes interpreted its responsibility towards the provision of coverage of such items as ‘sheepdog trials, gardening, golf and snooker’. (Ellis, J. 2002, p.150) This conservative view of quality television led to the BBC being ‘widely perceived as complacent and distant from the audiences that it was meant to serve.’ (Ellis, J. 2002, p.150) This was then the context of Channel 4 being set up; it had created a fresh concept of the values of broadcasting based around the idea of ‘innovation’. These ideas led to the Public Service Remit of Channel 4 focusing on ‘innovation’, ‘experiment’ and ‘creativity’. That would appeal
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