RTS Cambridge. Phil Redmond, the man who created Grange Hill and Hollyoaks, has suggested that Channel 4 become a part of the BBC.
Delivering the Huw Wheldon Memorial Lecture to the Royal Television Society gathering in Cambridge, Redmond argued that the best way to keep and to protect children’s TV as a public service would be to consolidate the assets of both broadcasters into a single entity. “One public service provider that would be underwritten by the BBC licence fee, but supplemented by Channel 4’s advertising and sponsorship income”.
The proposals were greeted with a mixed reaction by delegates, chief executive of producers’ trade association Pact, John McVay, described them as “way out of the box”.
The future of Channel 4 has been occupying the minds of executives ever since the opening of a potential £100m funding gap. Proposals have included a merger with either BBC Worldwide, the corporation’s commercial arm, or the RTL-owned Five.
Redmond suggests that the BBC retain responsibility of BBC One and Two, News, Parliament, CBBC and CBeebies, while Channel 4 would take the youth-skewing BBC Three and arts-based BBC Four. He argued that the BBC licence fee would not just be protected, but strengthened, dismissing suggestions that the fee be ‘top-sliced’ with the proceeds going to ITV regional news or Channel 4.
Redmond also took the BBC Trust to task for abandoning children at the age of 12, and failing to pick them up through the multimedia brand BBC Switch. His criticism could just have easily be levelled at the commercial sector where Playhouse Disney, Nickelodeon and the recently launched Disney XD are all distinctly narrowcast. Trouble, which served the 15-24 demographic, was closed by Virgin Media Television in February 2009.