Alex Mahon

Alex Mahon on how Channel 4 has risen to the challenge at the RTS Digital Convention 2020

They say that times of crisis often bring out the best in people and organisations. For an example of this, look no further than how Channel 4 has adapted to postponed productions and an alarming fall in advertising over the past six months.

“In a crisis, when you have to change really fast, Channel 4 is actually amazing,” the broadcaster’s CEO, Alex Mahon, told Tim Hincks, co-CEO of Expectation, at the RTS’s Digital Convention.

Alex Mahon: How indies saved Channel 4 during lockdown

Speaking at the RTS Digital Convention 2020, Mahon recalled that in the spring when Britain was hit by the first wave of coronavirus: “Indies came to the rescue of Channel 4 and said ‘We’ll be flexible, we’ll work out how to produce in lockdown.’  

“They said, ‘We have to delay this programme or we can’t make it or we’ve found a cunning way to make this programme.’”  

She added: “Indies did incredible things and produced things cheaply.”  

In conversation with Alex Mahon | RTS Digital Convention 2020

Watch Alex Mahon, CEO of Channel 4, in conversation with Tim Hincks, co-CEO of Expectation as part of the RTS Digital Convention 2020, sponsored by YouTube.

Alex and Tim discuss Covid strategies, editorial direction and production budgets, the rate of change at Channel 4, Ofcom’s PSB review and much more.

The session is part of a number of online events from leading industry figures for RTS Digital Convention 2020, sponsored by YouTube.

Channel 4's Alex Mahon: Regulation needs to support PSBs to achieve their goals

Alex Mahon (Credit: RTS/Richard Kendal)

CEO Alex Mahon made a forthright defence of Channel 4’s place within television’s new ecosystem. She said that channels such as hers were “a vital counterweight to the growing concentration of power that is in the hands of just a few tech behemoths, [which] increasingly decide what we read, what we watch and what we listen to”.

Mahon highlighted the importance of Channel 4’s programmes, which added “piquancy to large domestic audiences”. She said that they resonated “in a way that’s important and big enough to be important to our whole society”.

What does the future hold for unscripted television?

Emma Willis in The Circle (Credit: Richard Kendal/ Channel 4)

Are we at peak unscripted content? Session chair Tim Davie noted that – while there was no short-age of good news for the genre (18 of the 20 top-performing original programmes on broadcast TV in the US that summer had been formatted entertainment) – there were worrying signs for the genre. The UK was still producing hit formats, but margins were declining and it was no longer the fastest growing market for original formats.

Channel 4 announces trial of new SVoD service

All4 logo (Credit: Channel 4)

All4 has grown in popularity in recent years with an increasing collection of box sets that users are able to watch on-demand, including Chewing Gum, National Treasure and Peep Show

Testing of Channel 4’s new SVoD service, All4+ begins in December with a sample group participating in a beta test using a web-only version of the service.

The beta test will include offering the ad-free service to the sample group for £3.99 per month, the same price as ITV’s Hub+.