To continue the theme of this weekend’s MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, Channel 4 received yet more criticism yesterday from another rival controller.
In what was arguably the most candid of the controller interviews at this year’s festival, Dan Chambers, controller of Five, said he agreed with the comments about Channel 4 made by outgoing ITV chief executive, Charles Allen, in Friday’s MacTaggart Lecture, but said he thought it likely that these radical statements were an attempt to take the heat off Allen himself.
Chambers added that Five’s own relationship with Channel 4, which was named the Channel of the Year on Saturday, could be particularly galling at times: “Five programmes get copied and, when they work, Channel 4 gets the credit.
“Then, on the other side, if Channel 4 runs a programme about a man with a huge cock, everyone assumes it was on Five.”
He went on to say that Channel 4 would face a tough decision as to the future of Big Brother: whether to keep finding more and more unhinged contestants at the risk of immoral broadcasting; or to ditch the programme, and leave a huge gap in its schedule and audience figures.
When asked by host, Heat magazine’s TV editor, Boyd Hilton, “Wouldn’t you give your right testicle to have Big Brother?”, Chambers said, unsurprisingly, that he’d rather keep it. He spoke similarly of ITV’s troubled reality TV outing, Celebrity Love Island, saying that the show’s ratings would not be good enough for Five and that he would turn it down if approached.
Admitting he was envious of Channel 4’s marketing budget, he added that the broadcaster’s exemption from (TV signal) spectrum tax means “it is not a level playing field”. He suggested that if his own channel was similarly excused from the tax, more would be budgeted on the marketing of new shows.
Speaking about his own programmes, Chambers appealed for more feature ideas for the 8pm slot and more entertainment shows. As part of this remit, Five will shortly be rolling out Respectable, a comedy set in a brothel, and a celebrity talent show.