Tuesday, 24 June 2008

C4 denies going 'Back to the Future'

Free to air New Zealand TV channel C4 seems to be drifting back to its roots, as bosses look to move its programming away from music television towards more drama and comedy programmes.

The network started life in 1997 as "TV4", a free to air urban youth-focused station created through a clever "juggling and rejigging" of frequencies by TV3. The channel had a number of theme nights during the week, including Brit Comedy Wednesday and Sci-Fi Thursday.

Under programmer Bettina Hollings, TV4 launched with a diverse range of youth programming, but later became more of a dumping ground for declining TV3 shows like Melrose Place and Baywatch.

After struggling financially and in the ratings, the station was relaunched in October 2003 as music channel C4. The new channel operated on a slim budget, broadcasting a selection of music videos and related programming.

That schedule was gradually expanded with content from MTV and Comedy Central, and more recently with shows like the US version of sitcom The Office.

For the coming season, C4 is adding a number of hour long dramas to its schedule, including the new season of sci-fi revival Battlestar Galactica, and NBC's American football series Friday Night Lights.
The Office US and Everybody Loves Chris also return with new episodes, along with the great sitcom 30 Rock (based around a fictional Saturday Night Live-style show), which struggled for viewers on TV3. The Sunday night "classic" movie slot will also be back this season.

But director of C4, Andrew Szusterman, denies the channel is becoming a dumping ground for failing TV3 programmes, saying the changes reflect "C4's move towards being a complete entertainment channel". He says unlike TV4, the channel will still have music programming at peak and off-peak times.

As part of the changes, C4 has secured a move to channel 12 on the Sky Digital platform, alongside other entertainment channels E! and Fashion TV. (It was previously buried up at channel 64, alongside other music channels like MTV, Juice, and Alt TV.)

* Stuff: C4 takes on TV2 with new season content
* NZ Herald: Renovations at C4

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