Channel 4 is a public service television broadcaster in the United Kingdom. It was created by an Act of Parliament and started broadcasting on November 2, 1982. Like the nation’s long established public service broadcaster, the BBC, it has gifted broadcasting frequencies, but it does not receive funding from the Television Licence income.
It is a publicly owned corporation whose board is appointed by OFCOM, in agreement with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Like the BBC, it has a public-service remit. It also has an obligation to provide schools programming.
All programming is financed through its commercial activities, which includes advertising.
Channel 4 nominally broadcasts only in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man.
In Wales, its equivalent is S4C, which broadcasts a mix of Channel 4 programming along with Welsh-language programmes. However, Channel 4 is received in border areas of Wales, and now broadcasts throughout the principality on Freeview, the digital terrestrial TV service. Channel 4, like UTV, is not “officially” available in the Republic of Ireland; but it is received extensively in the Republic of Ireland through signal overspill from Northern Ireland.
It is broadcast on cable/MMDS operators Chorus and NTL. Close to 70% of homes in the Republic can receive Channel 4, making up about 4.2% of the channel’s audience. There are more potential Channel 4 viewers in the Republic of Ireland than in Northern Ireland, which leads many advertisers to use Channel 4 in Northern Ireland to target viewers on both sides of the border. The channel is encrypted on Sky Digital, and so cannot be viewed officially outside the UK on satellite.