Channel 4 is committed to arts programming

Contrary to the impression given by your report, 'Culture programming is feeling the pinch' (Media, 17 October), Channel 4 (C4) remains very committed to arts programming.

We admire the service Sky Arts supplies, but its output is in the main acquired from other broadcasters’ back catalogues; in June for example only 7% of programmes were original commissions. C4 only commissions original programmes in arts and our annual investment exceeds Sky Arts.
We shouldn’t ignore impact. The Sky Arts average audience is 1,000 viewers, whereas the audience for a C4 arts programme is, on average, 750 times higher. The top rated arts series on C4 in 2008, Picture This, pulled in an audience in excess of a million viewers.
C4 is also doing more than making programmes.  The Big Art Project is a major new public art initiative set up by C4 to commission new art with the public as the client. We have also commissioned artists, like Steve McQueen, enabling him to make his first feature film.
The awards we have won this year alone - including the Camera d’Or at Cannes for Steve McQueen’s Hunger, a Rose d’Or for the ballet documentary Strictly Bolshoi and an Oscar for the animation Peter and the Wolf – demonstrate that cultural programming at C4 is in rude health. 
Jan Younghusband, commissioning editor, arts and performance, Channel 4

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