British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Channel 4 Press Packs 1982-2002

A new digital resource from the BUFVC brings together the first twenty years of the ground-breaking pre-broadcast information packages from Channel 4 online ( Linda Kaye, BUFVC Research Executive, looks at the origins, aims and context of the project and its online delivery as part of a four-year AHRC-funded project undertaken in partnership with the University of Portsmouth.

About the Author: Linda Kaye is the BUFVC’s Research Executive and is resposnsible for the News On Screen web resource and is part of the team behind the Channel 4 and British Film Culture project ( Her publications include Projecting Britain: The Guide to British Cinemagazines (2008), co-edited with Emily Crosby.

C4-PP-1985-1986_christmas-jan-feB-webSpinning the Content into Context
At the turn of this century, in the early days of mass digitization, it used to be said that content was king. Then as content flooded the market, the new king was the means of locating it, metadata. The new heir waiting in the wings is context, the element that gives both meaning and renders them unique. Chris Griffin-Beale, Channel 4’s first Press Officer, had a profound understanding of the value of context and it is this which permeates the Channel’s ground-breaking press information packs. He completely re-worked the accepted press information formula, transforming a few of typewritten pages into a booklets that supplemented a comprehensive seven day listing with detailed film notes, programme highlights, reviews and stills. He helped journalists to understand the why: why the programme was interesting, why the film was important and why they should be writing about them.

The press packs are at the heart of a new BUFVC online resource developed, in partnership with the University of Portsmouth and Channel 4 Archive, as part of the AHRC project ‘Channel 4 Television and British Film Culture’ (2010-2014). Two decades of weekly packs, as well as seasonal highlights, can now be searched and browsed (by UK Higher Education/Further Education and BUFVC members only) providing the researcher with a unique insight into an extraordinary roster of programmes that revolutionized British television. True to the contextual spirit that informed the packs themselves, we also wanted to help the user to understand the why: why they are valuable and why they should be using them. So the collection is enhanced by articles, research case studies, timelines and from May 2014, key elements of the project’s website.

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