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Channel 4 lambasted by Founder 2006-11-14

Posted by clype in Humanities, Intolerance.

‘Channel Four’ has an ‘obsession’ with sex and bad behaviour — according to the broadcaster’s founding chief executive.

Sir Jeremy Isaacs cited recent programmes ‘Designer Vaginas’ and ‘The World’s Biggest Penis’, along with a week that featured documentaries on the subject of masturbation, as evidence of the channel’s decline. He also lambasted ‘Channel 4’ for allowing Ms.Peaches Geldof, daughter of Sir Bob Geldof, to host a show about ‘Islam’.

In its early days, ‘Channel 4’ ‘offered a quiet seriousness that today has mostly disappeared’, Mr.Isaacs said.

[Picture of Jeremy Isaacs]
‘”Channel 4″ set out to offer an alternative viewing experience, with the arts, current affairs and documentary prominent, and diversity at the heart of its output.

‘Today, commercial ambitions are taking “Channel 4” down different paths.’

Writing in the latest edition of ‘Prospect magazine’, Mr.Isaacs said:

‘Public service broadcasters used to aim at universality, offering something to all ages and educational levels. But “Channel 4’s” prime marketing concept is the appeal to a 16-34 audience.

‘This has some strange consequences — a series explaining Islam, for example, is entrusted to Peaches Geldof.

‘There’s an obsession with adolescent transgression and sex. Gordon Ramsay is hired to make a series called “The F Word”; “Designer Vaginas” is followed by “The World’s Biggest Penis”.’

Current affairs, arts and science programming has suffered as the broadcaster serves up ‘far too much reality and lifestyle’, Mr.Isaacs said.

While ‘Big Brother’ began as an innovative social experiment, ‘it now embodies a mildly prurient voyeurism’. Mr.Isaacs  was chief executive of ‘Channel 4’ from its launch in 1982 until 1987. He said of the channel’s early years:

‘The most important programme we broadcast, though it took a year to get right, was “Channel 4 News”. “Today”, presented by Jon Snow and backed by a team of fine journalists, it excels itself.

‘But I miss “the arts” on “Channel 4” (particularly as “More4” says it will be more “Wife Swap” than “Wagner”) and the intellectual fibre of “Opinions and Voices”. I also miss a science programme, a book programme and something regular on Europe.’

The daytime line-up of ‘Countdown’, the ‘money-for-nothing show ‘Deal Or No Deal’, ‘Richard and Judy’, ‘Paul O’Grady’, ‘The Simpsons’ and ‘Hollyoaks’ is..

‘the epitome of commercial scheduling’, he said.

‘All these hold an audience and rake in revenue.

‘They help to pay for the riskier, “quality” programmes. But there are not enough of these,’ said Sir Jeremy, who did have praise for the US dramas ‘The West Wing’ and ‘The Sopranos’, and the current affairs programmes ‘Dispatches’ and ‘Unreported World’.

  • Meanwhile, ‘Channel 4’ has been rebuked by the media regulator ‘Ofcom’ for plugging its property magazine, ‘4homes’.

    The broadcasting code states products can be promoted in programmes only if they are ‘directly derived from a specific programme’. ‘Channel 4’ claimed the magazine supported shows such as ‘Location, Location, Location’, ‘Property Ladder’ and ‘Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares’.

    However, ‘Ofcom ruled’: ‘Very little of the content could be described as ‘directly derived from a specific programme’.

Treading the line between innovation and poor taste:
‘Channel 4’ has never been afraid of the controversial; in 1986, it brought in a ‘red triangle’ to be displayed in the top left-hand corner of the screen, warning for late-night films depicting explicit sex, language and violence.

Opponents claimed it was an excuse to show even more scenes featuring questionable content. Within months, the experiment was quietly dropped. Such programming, as well as ‘The Tube’ and ‘Network 7’, often straddled the boundary between pioneering and being tasteless.

In 1994, ‘Brookside’ showed its first pre-watershed lesbian kiss.

In recent years, the media watchdog ‘Ofcom’ said that it had serious concerns over scenes of a sexual nature involving housemates in ‘Big Brother’ on ‘Channel 4’, which at times ‘operated at the limits of acceptability in terms of potential harm and offence’.



1. Robert Jackman - 2006-11-15

Totally agree – have you seen some of the filth they’re pouring out? It’s just titillation television.
I did a big blog entry on it if you’re interested.

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