Channel Four seeks solace from the taxman

Is it just us, or is the news that Channel Four is seeking tax breaks in order not to run out of money and maintain its public service broadcasting remit producing hollow laughter elsewhere, too? This, after all, is the channel responsible for such sterling contributions to the national good as Big Brother, Celebrity Wife Swap and the disastrous Space Cadets.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with these shows as entertainment - although it must surely be a mercy that the station's planned celebration of all things onanistic, 'W**k Week', never made it onto our screens. But C4 has shown scant regard for public service in recent years - only now, thanks to a blast of chilly financial reality, does it suddenly seem keen to ‘save' this part of its programmme making remit.

You can't have it both ways, and as the new Ofcom report into C4 also illustrates, it has been pretty clear which way the channel has been moving. The report states that peak-time serious factual programming on C4 has declined by a hefty 25% in the past five years. Couched in terms that the reality generation might better understand, that'd be like starting the last series of Celebrity Big Brother with only 10 contestants rather than 14. Shilpa and Jade might never have met…

However you prefer to think of it, that's a lot of lost airtime. So boss Andy Duncan can hardly complain now that people are questioning the legitimacy of his pleas for help from the taxman as a result. Perhaps he should ask his oppos at ITV to audition him for a new version of one of their most popular reality shows - ‘I'm a TV station boss facing a £80m shortfall. Get me out of here!'.

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