Film4 could be among the casualties of the problems currently plaguing Channel 4 amid the recession, according to statements made by Tessa Ross to the House of Lords Communications Committee. Ross, the controller of film and drama at Film4, said her operation would be “foolish” not to have any concern over its future, additionally suggesting that one method to aid the film channel would be to redraft the public services remit of its parent broadcaster to bring Film4 into the fold.
ScreenDaily cites recent quotes from Ross on the future of Film4:
“The current economic climate has put pressure on Film4’s budget and Channel 4 is having to respond to market conditions, protecting commercial programming while also fighting to preserve areas like film which makes Channel 4 distinctive and offer huge cultural value to our audiences. Film4 is a unique home for British filmmakers and we are passionate that we should be able to continue to take the risks that allow projects like Slumdog to get off the ground.”
Ross is making the move at a good time as Slumdog Millionaire has given the organisation currency to try and promote its economic viability. The Film4 remit remains pretty strong, especially given as few free film channels exist and even fewer which show interesting and challenging movies without having to pay up to Murdoch’s Sky empire. Channel 4 itself too should be making its case more often, especially given the relevance and quality of its service when compared to the BBC. Channel 4 continues to provide the world with great documentaries, an excellent selection of films and original programming and easily the most reliable news coverage in the UK. It should be rewarded and the BBC should be, if not punished, certainly subject to a more stringent oversight of how taxpayer money is being spent. This is particularly frustrating given the galling nature of modern programming on the BBC, too much of which involves reality television and repeats which seems not to serve its responsibilities as a public service broadcast network.
Time for a shift in the power axis of television I think, even if it’s days in its traditional form are numbered. Channel 4, and Film4, deserve some assistance from the government to make sure we don’t ever have to rely on getting our television news from the BBC or, God forbid, ITV.