To ensure Channel 4's process of responding to queries is as efficient as possible, here are some of the more frequently asked questions received by the Channel 4 Freedom of Information team.
- How was Channel 4 set up?
The Channel 4 service was originally established under the Broadcasting Act 1980 and was provided for by the Independent Broadcasting Authority (the then broadcasting regulatory body which no longer exists).
The Channel Four Television Corporation was subsequently established under the Broadcasting Act 1990 and the Channel's functions were transferred over to the new Corporation in 1993. The Corporation's board is appointed by Ofcom in agreement with the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
There is information about how the Channel operates, its history, remit and additional businesses here.
Channel 4's function as defined by Ofcom can be read here.
Channel 4's functions and public service remit relevant to the main Channel 4 service are set out in sections 199 and 198A (inserted by section 22 of the Digital Economy Act) and 265(3) of the Communications Act 2003.
- Who owns Channel 4?
Channel Four Television Corporation was set up by an Act of Parliament. It is a publicly owned not-for-profit corporation and does not have any shareholders.
- Who runs Channel 4?
The Board is appointed by the television regulator – Ofcom – in agreement with the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The current Chief Executive is Alex Mahon and the current Chairman is Charles Gurassa.
You can find out more about the Chief Executive, Senior Management and the Board of Directors, including the most recent remuneration information, in our latest Annual Report.
- How is Channel 4 funded?
Unlike the BBC, Channel 4 receives no public funding. It is funded entirely by its own commercial activities.
- Can you give me the viewing figures for a particular programme?
Audience viewing figures are compiled and owned not by Channel 4, but by BARB, the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board. Therefore, it is generally BARB and not Channel 4 who has the right to supply audience figures to third parties.
Having said that, lots of general audience reports are available online on the BARB website: they publish weekly and monthly audience reports going back to 1998 of the numbers of viewers for each channel. They also publish lists of the programmes with the highest ratings by channel. You may want to contact BARB directly to see if they can assist you with your enquiry via their online request form.
You may also wish to consider contacting Broadcast, the weekly industry television and radio journal, in case they can assist you (Broadcast publishes weekly ratings figures).
We make a lot of information about our audiences available on our website. You may want to look at the Channel 4 Sales website.
- Does Channel 4 have a list of preferred suppliers?
As a publisher-broadcaster, Channel 4 does not produce its own programmes but commissions them from more than 300 independent production companies across the UK every year. Channel 4 does not have a list of preferred or approved production companies. However, you can find a list of independent production companies we have recently worked with here.
If you would like to know more about Channel 4's commissioning process, further information is available on our commissioning website. If you would like to find out more about production companies in the UK, you may wish to consider contacting PACT, the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television.
- Can I see some case histories of successful sponsorships?
Yes – have a look at the Channel 4 Sales website.
- Can I find out more about a particular Channel 4 programme?
Information relating to Channel 4 programmes is covered by the journalistic 'designation' (set out in Schedule I, Part VI of FOIA). This means that there is no obligation to disclose information in connection with our television programmes to the general public.
However, although questions about Channel 4's programmes will not be dealt with under FOIA, our Viewer Enquiries team may be able to help you.
- How can I obtain a copy of a Channel 4 programme?
As you can imagine, we receive hundreds of calls and emails requesting copies of programmes and our policy is that we do not provide these as, among other reasons, it would seriously impact on the ability of Channel 4 or its production company partners to sell programmes, for example on DVDs, after they have been broadcast on Channel 4.
However, All 4 offers an extensive on-demand service, with most programmes being available in Catch Up for a period of up to 30 days after they have been aired on television. Many of these programmes then move seamlessly into All 4’s huge free library of shows, which includes complete box sets of some of our most popular series.
Some programmes are available to purchase on DVD. For more information about obtaining a copy of a Channel 4 programme, including for educational purposes, please contact our Viewer Enquiries team.
- Can you give me information for my Media Studies project?
Our 4Talent website is aimed at people who are seeking to break into the media industry as well as those at different stages in their career.
There is also a lot of information about Channel 4 available on our main website.
- Can you give me some general information about Channel 4?
A lot of information is available from channel4.com. A useful place to start is About4.
- How does Channel 4 commission its programmes?
Channel 4 is a publisher-broadcaster. It does not produce its own programmes in-house, but commissions them from more than 300 independent production companies right across the UK, making it the major stimulus and outlet for Britain's highly successful independent production sector. It invests heavily in training and talent development throughout the industry. Have a look at the 4Producers website for a full overview of the commissioning process at Channel 4.
- What is Channel 4's programme policy?
Please click here to see our Statements of Programme Policy.
- How does Channel 4 get new ideas for its website?
Information about how Channel 4 develops and commissions new ideas for its website is available online at commissioning.
- Advertising on Channel 4
Channel 4 requires all advertising agencies placing adverts with Channel 4 to follow the UK Advertising Codes.
All advertisement campaigns that are broadcast on the Channel 4 family of channels are cleared for transmission by Clearcast. Clearcast are responsible for ensuring compliance with the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP codes). For more information about Clearcast please click here.
Further information about advertising standards can be found at the Advertising Standards Authority website. The UK Code of Broadcast Advertising and the UK Code of Non-Broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing are available online.
- People who work at Channel 4
Channel 4 is a publisher-broadcaster. It does not produce its own programmes in-house, but commissions them from more than 300 independent production companies right across the UK. This means that, for the most part, Channel 4 does not directly employ cameramen, presenters, or other people involved in making television programmes.
Broadly, the Channel Four Television Corporation deals with the main Channel 4 service and 4 Ventures.
4 Ventures, the Corporation's wholly owned subsidiary, runs Channel 4's other digital channels (E4, More 4 and Film4) and commercial ventures.
Information about Channel 4's headcount is available in our Annual Report, where it is broken down into individual departments. This report is available online.
- Can I see your Annual Reports online?
Our current Annual Report is available online. Our Annual Reports are published each year in May, and once they are published we aim to make them available online.
You can also access our previous Annual Reports.
If this information doesn't answer your question, you can make an FOI request using our online form.