Brands appeal for Channel 4 to change under Abraham

LONDON - Advertisers are hoping the arrival of David Abraham as chief executive of C4 will provide the broadcaster with stability.

Channel 4: must 'change under its new boss'
Channel 4: must 'change under its new boss'

Abraham's appointment follows the departure of his predecessor, Andy Duncan, and C4 chairman Luke Johnson. He joins from UKTV, where he was chief executive and oversaw a rebrand of the broadcaster's portfolio.

Brands are looking to Abraham to focus on reviving Channel 4's distinctive output to justify its place on marketers' media schedules.

Kevin Peake, marketing director at energy provider Npower, said: "Channel 4 has focused too heavily on being 'chall­enging' rather than producing quality.

"Investing in the right programming can change this, especially with the reinvestment of the money that would have funded Big Brother."

This is a view echoed by Ian Armstrong, customer marketing manager at Honda UK, who believes C4 has been beset by too much uncertainty recently.

Armstrong said: "The business has been un­der the spotlight for a whole host of reasons. Abraham needs to set out a clear direction for the channel and demonstrate he has the gravitas and skills to get the best out of every area of the business."

Securing the broadcaster's future funding model is also crucial, as Duncan's failure to obtain a top-sliced share of the BBC licence fee has left Channel 4 wholly dependent on ad revenue.

Amanda Mackenzie, chief marketing officer of Aviva, suggests this should be an early focus for Abraham.

She said: "Channel 4 needs to be clear on its business model, resolve its funding arrangements and continue to produce a mix of innovative, appealing and quality programmes."

Armstrong points out that relying on TV ad revenue is risky: "Abraham needs to have some strong ideas, or at least surround himself with people who have a good handle on how you generate incremental revenues in an increasingly digital landscape."

Jeremy Davies, director of brand and communications at E.ON, is also aware of the challenges facing Channel 4 in terms of ratings, revenue and changing viewing habits. However, he believes it "remains distinctive, strong and capable of delivering a unique audience".

Davies said: "What it needs is a rapid return to innovative and creative programming that fits the brand and protects its heart."

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