British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

History of C4 PIPs

Channel 4’s Press Information Packs were originally printed in an A4 format and sent out on a weekly basis to newspapers and magazines located across the United Kingdom. The packs provided full listings for the channel, including programme reviews, production details and information about commissioning editors and other staff members.

These documents were first published in 1982, prior to the channel’s launch in the November of that year and continued to be produced until the beginning of June 2002, when press information was made available digitally via the Channel 4 website.

The British Universities Film and Video Council hold a complete set of the packs printed during this twenty year period. Stored under archival conditions, they are well preserved with few signs of ageing or damage. However, they have remained an underused resource, rarely accessed by scholars working in the fields of film, television and screen studies. The press pack digitisation project and development of the accompanying database has created an easy point of access for researchers, where copies of the packs can be viewed and their content searched in detail.

The Press Information Packs were developed by Channel 4’s first senior press officer, Chris Griffin-Beale, who authored much of their content. Sadly Chris died in 1998, but his assistant Diana Pearce has since described him as a man who had a limitless capacity for work and boundless energy, with a mind “as sharp as a razor”.1 She revealed that in the months prior to the launch of the channel she and Chris would often work a thirteen hour day, responding to queries from assorted companies, journalists and members of the public. When describing the development of the packs, she asserted that Chris had a “definite view about what journalists needed in press information”.2 The design and content of the packs reveal his distinctive approach to communicating with the press. They were intended to be comprehensive, including full listings, synopses, news, reviews and photographs. The equivalent press information produced by the BBC and ITV companies at this time was markedly different, consisting either of basic programme listings with brief synopses, or season highlights, focusing on a few selected commissions. It can be suggested that Chris Griffin-Beale and his colleagues revolutionised press information for British television, producing eloquent and well-researched content that could be used directly by journalists when previewing new Channel 4 commissions in newspapers and TV listings magazines.

1 Diana Pearce, personal communication, January 28, 2011.
2 Diana Pearce, personal communication, January 28, 2011.