Programming: More4

October 1, 2005

More4 (London, U.K.)

The more ‘up-market end of the C4 audience,’ with advertisers targeting the 25 to 55, middle- to high-income segment

Potential Audience
11 million free-view homes

On-air hours
4 P.M. to midnight, with the sked repeating at midnight

Katie Speight, Editor

‘To create one of the most high-quality, thought provoking, talked-about channels in the U.K.,’ says Speight. ‘We want More4 to be mainstream, original and intelligent. We have the top-end lifestyle shows like Grand Designs – it’s not the lighter programming you may find on other digital channels.’

Looking to ‘come back from the blandness that permeates some television,’ Speight plans to air opinionated programming for adults. More4 aims to be contemporary, entertaining, intelligent and opinionated.

Need it
Hot on the heels of Channel 4 announcing its 2004 surplus, the British pubcaster put a spotlight on More4, a free-to-air digital channel launching this month.

By offering a mixture of genres (about half the sked is docs, 35% fiction and 15% news and current affairs), More4 hopes to tap into the C4 audience that’s ‘very happy to watch Property Ladder, then the news, then a foreign documentary,’ says editor Katie Speight. In order to satisfy the cravings of these eclectic viewers, Speight wants More4 to have a schedule that skews contemporary. ‘A lot of digital channels feel a bit like they were been programmed six months ago, and that the tapes have gone in the machines and everyone’s gone home.’

In order to keep programming current, roughly £20 million (US$36.2 million) of More4′s £33 million ($60 million) budget will be spent during the first year to originate new programs, including commissions, copros and acquisitions.

Speight uses My Foetus, a controversial program that aired on C4 last year, as an example of a project More4 may have commissioned for itself. The doc follows an expectant mother’s journey as she deals with her thoughts on the pro-choice movement. ‘We’re not afraid of people with strong opinions,’ says Speight. ‘We want to provoke debate.’

More4 has a one-hour doc strand at 9 P.M. three nights a week – a mix of domestic and international acquisitions and commissions – that includes observational pieces in which doc-makers react to the world around them. ‘We’ll generally acquire one a week, and commission one a week,’ says Speight, adding that More4 will pay between £70,000 and £100,000 ($127,000 to $181,000) for one-hour commissions. On the first Monday of each month, More4 will air a high-profile two-hour program. ‘It will either be a drama or a feature doc like Touching the Void, or the premier of an acquisition like Fahrenheit 9/11,’ says Speight. If More4 can aggregate its costs on these key events, Speight says the channel may spend as much as £1 million ($1.8 million) on each of them.

Don’t Need it
‘We’re not in the business of reality TV,’ says Speight. ‘That’s done very well by Channel 4 and E4. And we won’t have many formatted shows. It’s not youth programming – we’ve got the opportunity to be something different. As the director of programming for Channel 4 has jokingly said, ‘If E4 is Channel 4 without the boring bits, then More4 is Channel 4 without the silly bits.”

Not interested in competing with the BBC’s arts projects, More4 will only air about eight to 10 hours of arts programming each year.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.