Channel 4’s own goal 

11 June 2009

Broadcast Now: Five wins final Freeview HD slot

Broadcast Now: Freeview HD plans in doubt

Whilst bidding for something like a slot on the new Freeview HD multiplex, the very, very last thing you want to do prior to the final decision is to publicly state to a House of Commons select committee that you might not be able to commit to providing a service for the one Freeview HD channel you already have a claim for.

Which is exactly what Channel 4’s Andy Duncan did recently, when he said in relation to Freeview HD’s funding, to quote: “I would say there’s a problem for us and for ITV in terms of the funding going forward”.


To begin with, the two contenders for Freeview HD’s fourth slot comprised of a joint bid between Channel 4 and S4/C, together with Five’s winning bid which will see the slot shared between it and another unnamed broadcaster, although it has to be said that Channel 4 could still end up being Five’s “unnamed broadcaster” if the price is right.

Of course it’s likely that Five’s proposal was the preferred choice for more reasons than just financial ones, especially as having S4/C kids’ TV output broadcast nationwide during the morning might be very worthy from a public service perspective but was extremely unlikely to have a large audience.

Plus there was the recent unmitigated disaster that was Channel 4’s digital radio project, when the Channel 4-backed consortium obtained a licence to operate a planned second national DAB multiplex but was subsequently forced to kill the whole project for financial reasons; that fiasco alone could have been a major deciding factor.

But all of this does prove that Channel 4’s management (yes, you Andy Duncan) still ought to be far more careful of what is said and who it is said to, especially when it relates to pleading poverty – just because you managed to attract the attention of government ministers doesn’t mean that everything you say suddenly becomes valid.

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