Privatization Will Destroy Essence of Channel 4, Says Content Chief Ian Katz

Channel 4 chief content officer Ian Katz believes that the impending privatization of the organization will destroy the essence of the U.K. broadcaster.

In a conversation with Variety international editor Manori Ravindran at the ongoing Edinburgh TV Festival on Tuesday, Katz talked up the successful programming strategy of Channel 4, including “It’s A Sin” and the upcoming disability themed “Help” and said that a purely profit driven channel would be a very “different beast” to the “special” channel that people know now.

A possible solution to retain the channel’s public service remit would be to write license requirements that would keep everything that is valued about it.

“I think what that approach misses is the fundamental change that you get in an organization, when you move from an organization that is purpose driven to an organization that is essentially profit driven, something profound and fundamental happens when you make that shift,” Katz said.

A move to a profit driven organization would lead everyone wanting to maximize profits, Katz said. “And inevitably, what then happens is the remit, the license requirements become a sort of albatross around your neck,” Katz said. “And inevitably, any purely commercially driven organization will begin to argue for a weakening of those license requirements. We’ve seen that again and again, in commercial television. And I think it’s a bit like the frog in the frying pan. Over time, inevitably, the essence, what’s really special about the channel, I think, would be destroyed.”

More to follow.

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