Opera, art skeins among push for 'new voices'

LONDON — Channel 4 reinforced its commitment to taking risks and championing new talent in its annual statement of program promises for 2003, which was announced last week.

Programming highlights for 2003 and early 2004 include a £1.5 million ($2.4 million) production of John Adams’ opera “The Death of Klinghoffer,” plus major arts series on “The Novel”; “Vincent van Gogh”; and “Operatunity,” a competish offering members of the British public a chance to break into the world of opera.

Web has made a commitment to run original drama for 50 weeks of the year and will invest £10 million ($16 million) a year to produce seven to eight films a year. Under Tessa Ross, new head of film at FilmFour, there will be a regeneration of the development slate, focusing on “strong scripts and new voices.”

Web also is planning a new weekly slot to showcase experimental programming commissioned by its independent film and video department. Planned shows include “Dogumentary,” two co-productions with Dogme filmmaker Lars Von Trier; “Coming Up,” an eight-part drama showcase for first time helmers and scribes; and “Heavy TV,” a new latenight discussion show.

Some 60% of C4′s schedule must be original productions, with 70% of those airing in peak time (6-10:30 p.m.). The channel also has committed to spend 30% of its production resources outside London.

Under broadcast watchdog Independent Television Commission requirements, C4 must broadcast an average of seven hours of education programs a week, four of news, four of current affairs, three of multicultural programming and one of religion.

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