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Art Blog

By Martin Guttridg...

More 4


Could we be seeing the beginning of a new era in the media?

I'm not sure. Probably not.

Still, this week one Jammie Thomas-Rasset has been ordered by a US court to pay some £1.2 million after losing a legal battle with the Recording Industry of America and six labels on filesharing and copyright charges.

And as anyone who keeps their fingers on the pulse should know, on Thursday the Digital Britain report was released.

And what did it say?

Well, there are to be greater powers and greater pressures on Internet Service Providers in the filesharing war- with Ofcom charged with ensuring they meet their quota of a 70 per cent reduction in illegal downloading and uploading. The timescale afforded is one year. Ambitious to say the least.

A deadline has been set for the switchover to DAB radio- 2015.

But perhaps most important within the context of a Britain in 2009 is the first written statement on the importance of Film Four with regard to the wider Channel Four stable.

For the first time in the broadcaster's history, its film arm is safeguarded, to some extent, by a written doctrine stressing its importance to the corporation, the industry and therefore by default, the nation.

Fears have been growing over the future of Film Four as the parent broadcaster has a funding shortfall of well over £100 million due to falls in advertising revenue.

So, the studios that gave us benchmark productions such as A Room for Romeo Brass and Trainspotting, in addition to more universal releases such as the recent, hugely over-hyped but immeasurably profitable Slumdog Millionaire looks safe for the time being.

And what good news this could be.

With artist Sam Taylor Wood having recently joined the stable, and talk of a feature debut abound, Peter Jackson working on an adaptation of Alice Sebold's novel The Lovely Bones, and man of the decade Shane Meadows looking (with the exception of the moderately disappointing Somers Town) incapable of making a bad film, it's hard to imagine what the outlook for British film would look like without Four.

If we can't even keep the lucrative Bond franchise on home turf, then something is wrong.

So the next time you feel pregnant with frustration at the throwaway screenings on the should-be-better Film Four channel, remember one thing.

Successful schedulers they may not be, but things would be further up the proverbial creek if they disappeared.

In summary, more Four please.