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She expressed hope that the government of Prime Minister Liz Truss would focus on “facts, data and evidence,” she told the RTS London Convention 2022. “We’ll see what happens in the coming weeks and months.”
Channel 4 may be “best” when “in a crisis” and with its back to the wall, Mahon said, but added that having clarity for the future would be great.
Asked about the advertising market trends, Mahon predicted a “pretty tricky” fourth quarter of 2022 amid a “pretty volatile market.” She suggested that while some sectors are doing fine, others are facing more challenges, and some companies may push ad spending into 2023. What is missing in the current environment is “decent predictability,” Mahon said.
The Channel 4 CEO called global streamer Netflix “a brilliant service,” but also highlighted the challenges of marketing content and “cutting through” amid the sheer amount of programming available in the streaming age.
The CEO also said that viewers of Channel 4 streamer All4 are worth the same as people watching on linear channels for the company. The key question for the industry is how to “manage that transition,” she said.
Mahon also argued that people like and want to watch content services with advertising, especially in the current high-inflation environment, “because they are free” and not everyone can afford all streaming services.
Asked about Channel 4’s coverage of the death and funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, Mahon said she felt the network made the right decisions in its handling of the news despite broadcasters facing “complex choices.”
The conservative British government led by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson had signaled determination to sell Channel 4, which is currently publicly owned but privately funded. The new conservative government of Truss, who recently took over, has said it would review the controversial privatization plan.
“We are looking especially at the business case for the sale of Channel 4 and making sure that we still agree with that decision, and that is what I am doing,” Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan told a BBC radio program recently. “I’m the type of politician that bases their decisions on evidence, that bases their decisions on listening and that’s what I will be doing over the coming weeks.”
Mahon and many others in the British TV industry have been vocal opponents of the proposed privatization of the broadcaster.
This summer, Channel 4 posted record full-year results, giving the network operator additional firepower as it fights against the controversial U.K. government plans.
The broadcaster also touted in its annual report this summer that it was “representing the whole of the U.K.,” saying: “From award-winning dramas, such as It’s A Sin, through to the groundbreaking The Black to Front Project, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, the Leeds-based daytime show Steph’s Packed Lunch, or Nida Manzoor’s We Are Lady Parts, 2021 saw Channel 4 portray a wide range of voices from across the U.K.”
Channel 4 spent £671 million ($794 million) on content in 2021, marking its third-highest content spend ever and a 29 percent increase over 2020 and also a boost over pre-pandemic levels.
“Channel 4 is a vital national institution, and its remit is deeply embedded in everything we make, every day and on every platform,” said Mahon back then. “It is about showcasing things that people might not agree with and that challenge perceptions. It’s about celebrating the rich diversity not only of all our communities across the U.K., but also their diversity of thought and opinion.”
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