Business programming isn’t all about stocks and percentage points. Case in point: The Business Channel, a new satellite net that launched last November that offers biographies, feature films, and lots of docs. As head of acquisitions, Chris Fletcher points out there’s been ‘an explosion of interest in business amongst young people, as illustrated by the huge success of Dragon’s Den and The Apprentice.’ Broadcasting 18 hours a day to the UK and Ireland, TBC aims to tap into that viewer surge, highlighting the best – and worst – aspects of the business world
How important will ethics be in your programming choices?
I think there is a heightened awareness among the general public. They all want to do something about big business abusing other countries, or exploiting workers in third world countries, etcetera. There is an ethical dimension to some of the programs that we’re showing. Obviously we’re not a campaigning channel – we can’t be because we are a business channel. But, we find that in the UK nobody would dare show some of the programs that we have had on.
Does that translate into a younger audience than is the norm for the genre?
We’re looking at demographics of about 16 to 45 – young entrepreneurs who have a little bit of a conscious, if you like, not the brazen capitalism of the trading floor… The audience we’re reaching out to is the really general public. We have lots of education programs… And then, in our primetime slots, we tend to have quite powerful, single documentaries looking at things such as money laundering, or commodities that people can identify with. So, not coal mining, but the diamond industry, the pearl industry, or the coffee trade; all those sorts of commodities everyone uses.
So it’s important that viewers have a touch-point with the shows?
We’ve highlighted things like Enron and WorldCom… I think people generally see the huge amounts of money being made in the City, and they want to know that it is being done honestly… There have been so many things happen with people’s pension funds collapsing through dirty dealings [for example]. That is pretty current in this country at the moment. You know when the stock exchange fell a few years ago, a lot of people’s pensions were severely diminished. So there is a back drop of animosity amongst ordinary people towards the City in general and towards big financial institutions that have basically affected the retirement plans of millions of people in the UK… I think there is an appetite for programs that show good business, but we will show bad business as well.