Channel 4 Television
: film policy and programming, 1982 – 2011

  • Rachael Keene

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis examines Channel 4’s relationship with British film culture between the years of 1982 and 2011. This is an institutional study, wherein policy is used as a means of interrogating Channel 4’s remit, staffing decisions and changing financial structures. It surveys the channel’s film coverage across a twenty-nine year period, taking a chronological approach. Following assessment of the policy landscape in the first chapter, a series of case studies are used to assess Channel 4’s commissioning and broadcasting practices relating to film and film-related programming throughout the period under examination.
Although film has played a key role in Channel 4’s history, remaining at the forefront of shifts in programming policy, it has been underrepresented in academic writing about the channel. This thesis addresses these gaps in scholarship, arguing that it is impossible to offer a comprehensive account of British film culture since 1980 without assessing Channel 4’s contribution to it.
This thesis raises key questions relating to definitions of creativity within the broadcasting sector, asserting that individuals working outside of production are capable of expressing creative agency within their areas of employment. The creative practices of television schedulers are evaluated throughout, using assorted programming samples as evidence. In treating the television schedule as a discrete text it has been possible to gain an overview of Channel 4’s strategies relating to particular categories of film and film-related programming throughout the last three decades.
The thesis also includes interviews and archival data obtained from Channel 4 during the period under examination. These original primary sources have supplemented existing gaps in literature, contributing to the development of an interdisciplinary methodology, enabling a new approach to evaluating relations between the UK’s film and television sectors.
Date of AwardSept 2014
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJustin Smith (Supervisor) & Paul McDonald (Supervisor)

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