Channel 4 co-commissioned Robert Ashley 's ground-breaking television opera Perfect Lives ,  which it premiered over several episodes in The channel often did not receive mass audiences for much of this period, however, as might be expected for a station focusing on minority interest. Channel 4 also began the funding of independent films, such as the Merchant-Ivory docudrama The Courtesans of Bombay , during this time.
In September , the channel broadcast the direct-to-TV documentary film Beyond Citizen Kane , in which it displayed the dominant position of the Rede Globo television network, and discussed its influence, power and political connections in Brazil. After control of the station passed from the Channel Four Television Company to the Channel Four Television Corporation in , a shift in broadcasting style took place.
Instead of aiming for the fringes of society, it began to focus on the edges of the mainstream, and the centre of the mass market itself. In the early s, Channel 4 began broadcasting reality formats such as Big Brother and obtained the rights to broadcast mass appeal sporting events like cricket and horse racing. This new direction increased ratings and revenues. In addition, the corporation launched a number of new television channels through its new 4Ventures offshoot, including Film4 , At the Races , E4 and More4.
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Partially in reaction to its new "populist" direction, the Communications Act directed the channel to demonstrate innovation, experimentation and creativity, appeal to the tastes and interests of a culturally diverse society and to include programmes of an educational nature which exhibit a distinctive character. On 31 December , Channel 4 launched a new look and new idents in which the logo is disguised as different objects and the 4 can be seen in an angle.
Under the leadership of Freeview founder Andy Duncan , saw a change of direction for Channel 4's digital channels. Channel 4 made E4 free-to-air on digital terrestrial television , and launched a new free-to-air digital channel called More4. By October, Channel 4 had joined the Freeview consortium. New programmes such as the weekly, half-hour The Morning Report news programme were among some of the new content Channel 4 provided for the station, with the name 4Radio being used.
As of early , however, Channel 4's future involvement in radio remained uncertain. On 2 November , the station celebrated its 25th birthday.
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It showed the first episode of Countdown , an anniversary Countdown special, as well as a special edition of The Big Fat Quiz and using the original multicoloured — blocks logo on presentation and idents using the Fourscore jingle throughout the day. In November , Channel 4 launched a week of 3D television , broadcasting selected programmes each night using stereoscopic ColorCode 3D technology. The accompanying 3D glasses were distributed through Sainsbury's supermarkets.
On 29 September , Channel 4 revamped its presentation for a fifth time; the new branding downplayed the "4" logo from most on-air usage, in favour of using the shapes from the logo in various forms. Four new idents were filmed by Jonathan Glazer , which featured the shapes in various real-world scenes depicting the "discovery" and "origins" of the shapes.
The full logo was still occasionally used, but primarily for off-air marketing.
Channel 4 also commissioned two new corporate typefaces, "Chadwick", and "Horseferry" a variation of Chadwick with the aforementioned shapes incorporated into its letter forms , for use across promotional material and on-air. Channel 4 has raised concerns over how it might finance its public service obligations after digital switch-over.
However, some certainty came with the announcement in April that Channel 4's digital switch-over costs would be paid for by licence fee revenues. On 28 March , Channel 4 announced plans to launch a music channel "4Music" as a joint venture with British media company EMAP which would include carriage on the Freeview platform. On 15 August , 4Music was launched across the UK.go here
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In June , it was announced that Alex Mahon would be the next chief executive, and would take over from David Abraham , who left in November Channel 4 was established with, and continues to hold, a remit of public service obligations which it must fulfil. The remit changes periodically, as dictated by various broadcasting and communications acts, and is regulated by the various authorities Channel 4 has been answerable to; originally the IBA, then the ITC and now Ofcom.
The preamble of the remit as per the Communications Act states that:. The remit also involves an obligation to provide programming for schools,  and a substantial amount of programming produced outside of Greater London. Channel 4 was carried from its beginning on analogue terrestrial, which was practically the only means of television broadcast in the United Kingdom at the time.
It continued to be broadcast through these means until the changeover to digital terrestrial television in the United Kingdom was complete. Since , it has been universally available on digital terrestrial, and the Sky platform initially encrypted, though encryption was dropped on 14 April and is now free of charge and available on the Freesat platform as well as having been available from various times in various areas, on analogue and digital cable networks. Due to its special status as a public service broadcaster with a specific remit, it is afforded free carriage on the terrestrial platforms,  in contrast with other broadcasters such as ITV.
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Channel 4 is also seen outside the United Kingdom where it is widely available in Ireland, Switzerland  and Belgium. Here viewers receive the channel either on basic cable subscription services or premium services. Channel 4 has been available in large parts of Ireland, especially border counties which have been able to receive terrestrial transmissions from Northern Ireland. Channel 4 has been carried on Irish cable networks since the station went on the air in From 4 December Channel 4 was officially available to Sky viewers in Ireland; some programmes, mainly imports, are not aired on this channel variant, due to Channel 4 not owning the relevant broadcast rights within the country.
As of [update] , Channel 4 has an opt-out for the Republic of Ireland featuring Irish advertising, but the schedule is the same as the UK channel. In the past some programmes mostly international imports were not shown. Channel 4 is also carried by the Internet TV service TVCatchup  and was previously carried by Zattoo until the operator removed the channel from its platform. Channel 4 also makes some of its programming available "on demand" via cable and the Internet through All 4.
During the station's formative years, funding came from the ITV companies in return for their right to sell advertisements in their region on the fourth channel. Nowadays it pays for itself in much the same way as most privately run commercial stations, i. In practice, however, these other activities are loss-making, and are subsidised by the main network. The change in funding came about under the Broadcasting Act when the new corporation was afforded the ability to fund itself. Originally this arrangement left a "safety net" guaranteed minimum income should the revenue fall too low, funded by large insurance payments made to the ITV companies.
Such a subsidy was never required, however, and these premiums were phased out by the government in The money would have come from the television licence fee and would have been the first time that money from the licence fee had been given to any broadcaster other than the BBC. Channel 4 is a "publisher-broadcaster", meaning that it commissions or "buys" all of its programming from companies independent of itself, and was the first broadcaster in the United Kingdom to do so on any significant scale; such commissioning is a stipulation which is included in its licence to broadcast.
Although it was the first British broadcaster to commission all of its programmes from third parties, Channel 4 was the last terrestrial broadcaster to outsource its transmission and playout operations to Red Bee Media , after 25 years in-house. The requirement to obtain all content externally is stipulated in its licence. It was established with a specific intention of providing programming to groups of minority interests, not catered for by its competitors, which at the time were only the BBC and ITV. Channel 4 also pioneered the concept of stranded programming , where seasons of programmes following a common theme would be aired and promoted together.
Some would be very specific, and run for a fixed period of time; the 4 Mation season, for example, showed innovative animation. During the station's early days, the screenings of innovative short one-off comedy films produced by a rotating line-up of alternative comedians went under the title of The Comic Strip Presents.
With over 25 comedians appearing, it billed it as "the biggest live stand up show in United Kingdom history". Channel 4 has a strong reputation for history programmes and real-life documentaries. It has also courted controversy, for example by broadcasting live the first public autopsy in the UK for years, carried out by Gunther von Hagens in , or the one-off stunt Derren Brown Plays Russian Roulette Live.
Its news service, Channel 4 News , is supplied by ITN whilst its long-standing investigative documentary series, Dispatches , attracts perennial media attention. FourDocs is an online documentary site provided by Channel 4. It allows viewers to upload their own documentaries to the site for others to view.
The website also includes an archive of classic documentaries, interviews with documentary filmmakers and short educational guides to documentary-making. It won a Peabody Award in Channel 4 is obliged to carry schools programming as part of its remit and licence. Since ITV had produced schools programming, which became an obligation. This arrangement allowed the ITV companies to fulfil their obligation to provide schools programming, whilst allowing ITV itself to broadcast regular programmes complete with advertisements.
During the times in which schools programmes were aired Central Television provided most of the continuity with play-out originating from Birmingham. After the restructuring of the station in , ITV's obligations to provide such programming on Channel 4's airtime passed to Channel 4 itself, and the new service became Channel 4 Schools, with the new corporation administering the service and commissioning its programmes, some still from ITV, others from independent producers.
In March , the 4Leaning interactive new media commission slabovia. The Slabplayer online media player showing TV shows for teenagers was launched on 26 May The schools programming has always had elements different to its normal presentational package. In , the Channel 4 Schools idents featured famous people in one category, with light shining on them in front of an industrial looking setting supplemented by instrumental calming music. This changed in with the circles look to numerous children touching the screen, forming circles of information then picked up by other children.
The last child would produce the channel 4 logo in the form of three vertical circles, with another in the middle and to the left containing the Channel 4 logo. A present feature of presentation was a countdown sequence featuring, in a slide with the programme name, and afterwards an extended sequence matching the channel branding. In , this was an extended ident with timer in top left corner, and in following the adoption of the squares look, featured a square with timer slowly make its way across the right of the screen with people learning and having fun while doing so passing across the screen.
It finished with the Channel 4 logo box on the right of the screen and the name 'Channel 4 Schools' being shown. This was adapted in when the service's name was changed to '4Learning'.