Dumbing Down, Cash Cow or both? 

14 April 2005 tbs.pm/430

Media Guardian: Channel 4 can’t do without Big Brother

The word on the street is that Channel 4 just can’t live without Big Brother and ultimately the money it brings in.

Channel 4 seems to becoming increasingly uneasy about the reality show – especially since the arrival of Andy Duncan as chief executive.

However it’s continued existence in the schedules could even undermine something that C4 has been campaigning about recently – subsidy.

The suggestion from the Corporation is that it simply won’t be able to last in the digital age without public cash – that to keep on pumping out its more public service programmes, they’ll need that subsidy.

Maybe they’re right, but it’s one that will be harder for the policy makers to accept when you consider that one programme has, over the last few years, helped return Channel 4 to profit, and where some ‘insiders’ at the channel are claiming that it’s difficult to give away the money the show raises.

And perhaps there is another model. The annual outing of loud mouth idiots, shouting at each other in a fake house near Elstree could become Channel 4’s equivalent of an American public service TV channel’s telethon – suspend all regular programming and just try and rake in the cash to keep you going for the next twelve months – perhaps with a top up from some Live Wife Swap…

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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