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Logo of Film4
Launched 1 November 1998
Owned by Channel Four Television Corporation
Audience share 0.8% (0.1% for +1) (February 2009, [1])
Slogan "Great films for free"
Country United Kingdom
Formerly called FilmFour
(until 19 July 2006)
Sister channel(s) Channel 4, E4, More4, 4Music
Website Channel 4 - Film4
Multiplex D
Channel 15
Freesat Channel 300
Channel 301 (+1)
Sky Digital Channel 315
Channel 316 (+1)
Astra 2D 10714H 22000 5/6
Virgin Media Channel 444
Channel 445 (+1)
UPC Ireland Channel 323
Channel 324 (+1)
Cablecom Channel 166 (CH-D)
TalkTalk TV Channel 230
Channel 231 ('Film4 on Demand')
Internet television
TVCatchup Watch live (UK only)
TVCatchup Watch live (+1) (UK only)

Film4 is a free digital television channel in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, owned and operated by Channel 4, that screens films.



Film4 did not originally focus on broadcasting blockbusters, but nowadays broadcasts mainly mainstream Hollywood movies. The channel frequently has themed nights or seasons in which a number of films centred around one genre, director or actor are shown. As Channel 4 also owns a film production company, Film4 Productions, it shows many of its in-house productions.

Occasional non-film (but film-related) programmes are also shown.

Wherever possible, films are shown in their correct aspect ratio. No digital on-screen graphics are superimposed. Under UK broadcasting rules, it was able to screen most films unedited and in earlier timeslots when it was a subscription channel, but these concessions were lost when it became free-to-air, and more adult material is now confined to after the 9pm watershed.


FilmFour logo 1998–2006

Film4 was originally known as FilmFour and became Channel 4's second channel (after Channel 4 itself) when it launched on 1 November 1998. It was a subscription-only service available on satellite television via the Sky Digital platform, Digital terrestrial via ITV Digital (until the platform went into administration in 2002), and most UK cable services. It cost £5.99 or £6.00 a month (depending on platform), eventually rising to up to £7. The launch night, which was also broadcast on Channel 4, was hosted by Johnny Vaughan and the first film to be shown was What's Eating Gilbert Grape.

Later, additional channels were added, FilmFour World and FilmFour Extreme which operated on a timeshare and the time-shift channel FilmFour +1. FilmFour World and Extreme were discontinued in 2003 and replaced by FilmFour Weekly, which screened four films across the week at the same time each day to make it easier to catch a film at least once [1]. FilmFour Weekly ceased broadcasting on 19 July 2006 when the subscription service ended.

Logo of timeshifted version; "Film4+1"

The subscription service ended on 19 July 2006 and the channel re-launched (under the slightly modified name of Film4) as a free-to-air service a few days later on 23 July. When the channel became free, it also returned to digital terrestrial as part of the Freeview brand, and became completely free-to-air on satellite television. Due to the change, the channel's availability increased from 300,000 (subscribers) to 18 million households. It also changed its broadcasting hours to 1.00pm-8.45am, and commercial breaks were included during films for the first time. The first film broadcast under the new format was the British non-subscription television premiere of Lost in Translation. It remains the only free film channel available on digital terrestrial television.

Prior to 20 August 2007 Film4 operated a one-hour-timeshift channel, Film4+1, on satellite, cable and Freeview. This channel was dropped on Freeview to make way for Channel 4+1 but continues to be broadcast on Sky, Virgin and Freesat services[2]. TalkTalk TV offers the non time-shifted channel along with a Video on demand service, Film4 on Demand.

From 23 May 2009, the broadcasting hours were extended to 11am-4am, enabling Film4 to show one extra movie.

On 8 March 2010, Virgin Media announced that Film4 HD would launch exclusively on the service in the Summer.[3]


Relaunch advertising campaign

To alert the public to it going free-to-air, Film4 launched a massive campaign directed by Kevin Spacey featuring major celebrities advertising Film4 in odd ways. The slogan of the campaign was "FILMS FOR FREE". Examples include:

  • Judi Dench in a lobster costume, operatically singing the words "Film Four!"
  • Lucy Liu in a banner plane, insulting Ray Winstone and Christian Slater who have incorrectly erected a 'Film4 is free' sign, whilst her own banner is displayed upside-down.
  • Ewan McGregor in a tomato costume, talking to Judi Dench about whether he is a fruit or a vegetable.
  • Gael Garcia Bernal putting leaflets, advertising Film4, onto cars and setting off their alarms. To which he then throws the remaining leaflets in the air.
  • Willem Dafoe saying to one of the advertising campaigners (played by Mackenzie Crook), "First day? It'll get better."
  • Rhys Ifans advertising the channel door-to-door, but often having a door slammed in his face.

Viewing share

Film4 share of viewing 1998–2007 BARB figures

See also


  1. ^ FilmFour moves mainstream, BBC, 21 March 2003
  2. ^ Chris Tryhorn (2007-07-05). "Channel 4 launches '+1' timeshift service". Media Guardian.,,2119529,00.html. Retrieved 2007-07-05. 
  3. ^ "Film4 HD To Launch Exclusively On Virgin Media". Virgin Media. 2010-03-08. 

External links

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