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Channel 4 at 40: The TV revolution

Spicer, Andrew

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Andrew Spicer
Professor in Cultural Production


This is the full text of my opening introduction to a public-facing event at the Arnolfini Gallery on 3 December 2022 entitled 'Channel 4 at 40: The TV Revoution in Bristol'.
In this overview I provide the social, political, cultural and historical context for the birth of Channel 4 in November 1982, discussing its 'licence to be different' and its constitution as a publisher broadcaster that commissions rather than produces programmes. I argue that Chnanel 4's founding remit tp appeal to tastes and interests not generally catered for by ITV and to encourage innovation and experiment in the form and content of programmes that would lend it a ‘distinctive character’ constitute a television 'revolution'. I illustrate this by discussing its news broadcasts, its pivot role in the growth of the independent production sector and its reinvigoration of an ailing British film industry. The introduction explores the challenge of relocating outside London and the threat of privatisation before offering an outline of the broadcaster's future.
It opened a wide-ranging event in which a dozen other presenters explored different facets of this revolution, from Channel 4's earliest days through to the present.


Spicer, A. (2022, December). Channel 4 at 40: The TV revolution. Presented at Channel 4 at 40: The TV Revolution in Bristol, Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol

Presentation Conference Type Keynote
Conference Name Channel 4 at 40: The TV Revolution in Bristol
Conference Location Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol
Start Date Dec 3, 2022
End Date Dec 3, 2022
Deposit Date Dec 11, 2022
Publicly Available Date Dec 12, 2022
Keywords Channel 4, alternative broadcaster, television, public service broadcaster, Channel 4, All 4
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