Ch. 4 takes public service vow


Under pressure to defend its editorial standards, Channel 4 CEO Andy Duncan said Tuesday that the broadcaster is embarking on a major strategic review to "renew and strengthen its public service vision in the digital age."

The process, to be overseen by Duncan, chairman Luke Johnson and the Channel 4 board, will begin immediately and comes a week after media regulator Ofcom said the broadcaster needed to improve how it delivered on its remit.

The second phase of the review is set to take place in the fall and will involve discussions with key stakeholders — including Ofcom, the government, viewers, producers and advertisers — to secure their views on the group's future.

Duncan said that he and the Channel 4 board have been developing its plans for the review for months and has now gone public with the process, which will dovetail with an investigation by Ofcom into whether the broadcaster will need long-term financial support.

Johnson said the outcome of the review will be "a bold new vision for Channel 4's public service contribution in a digital world" and determine the optimum strategy for delivering it.

Speaking at a Westminster Media Forum event in London, Duncan told an audience of broadcasters and policymakers that "delivering public purposes" was Channel 4's "whole reason for being." He added, "Now our efforts must focus on ensuring we don't ever reach the position where we have to stop fulfilling our remit because of financial pressures."

The broadcaster has come under criticism in recent months over its editorial standards, which culminated in a formal rebuke from Ofcom over the issue of bullying in its key show, "Celebrity Big Brother," after which it was forced to apologize to viewers.

The media regulator is expected to conclude its review into Channel 4's finances by year's end.