Last updated

Film4 logo 2018.svg
CountryUnited Kingdom
Slogan Great films for free
Picture format 1080i HDTV
(downscaled to 16:9 576i for the SDTV feed)
Owner Channel Four Television Corporation
Sister channels 4seven
Channel 4
The Box
Box Hits
Launched1 November 1998
Former namesFilm Four
Freeview Channel 14
Channel 46 (+1)
Virgin Media Channel 428
Channel 429 (HD)
Channel 430 (+1)
Virgin Media Ireland Channel 323
Channel 324 (+1)
Channel 343 (HD)
UPC Cablecom (Switzerland)Channel 166 (CH-D)
Naxoo (Switzerland)Channel 226
WightFibre Channel 29
Channel 30 (+1)
Freesat Channel 300
Channel 301 (+1)
Sky Channel 313 (SD/HD)
Channel 314 (+1)
Channel 853 (SD)
Astra 2E
10714 H 22000 5/6
10936 V 22000 5/6 (+1)
12266 H 29500 8/9 (HD)
BT Programmes available on-demand
Channel arbitrary
Eir Vision Channel 315
Channel 316 (+1)
Streaming media
All 4 Watch live
FilmOn Watch live
Sky Go Watch live (UK and Ireland only)

Film4 is a British free-to-air television channel owned by the Channel Four Television Corporation, that broadcasts films. It was launched on 1 November 1998. While its standard-definition channel is available as a FTA network, its high-definition variant is offered as a pay television service.



Film4 started in 1982 as Channel Four Films, a production company owned by Channel Four Television Corporation, and has been responsible for backing a large number of films made in the United Kingdom and around the world. The company's first production was Walter (directed by Stephen Frears), which was released in the same year. On 1 November 1998, the outfit was re-branded as FilmFour to coincide with the launch of a new digital television channel of the same name on both Sky and ONdigital platforms becoming Channel 4's second channel, it was a subscription-only service which costs £6 a month eventually rising to £7. The launch night (which was also broadcast on Channel 4), hosted by Johnny Vaughan and the first film to be shown was 1995's The Usual Suspects , starring Kevin Spacey, Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne and Benicio del Toro. On 31 March 2000 at 6.00am, the analogue version of FilmFour shut down and later switched to digital (until the platform went into administration in 2002), and most UK cable services.

In July 2002, Channel 4 cut its budget from £30 to £10 million and 50 staff due to mounting losses, and re-integrated FilmFour as a division of its television operation to continue to invest in new films. The cuts were a consequence of FilmFour's unsuccessful attempts to compete with Hollywood. David Thompson, head of BBC Films described it as: [1] [2] [3]

A very "sad day" for the British film industry. The British film industry needs confidence right now and this doesn't inspire confidence.

Also in the same year, Tessa Ross became head of both Film4 and Channel 4 drama. [4] The name "Film4 Productions" was introduced to tie in with the relaunch of the FilmFour broadcast channel when the subscription service ended on 19 July 2006 and the channel (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 12.45pm – 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 2003's Lost in Translation , starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. Prior to the arrivals of Movie Mix and Movies4Men on the Freeview platform, Film4 was the only free film channel available on digital terrestrial television.

From 23 May 2009, the broadcasting hours were changed to 11.00am – 4.00am, with it broadcasting teleshopping or an animated caption stating it will return at 11.00am during the downtime hours. On 1 November 2010, Film4 partnered with FilmFlex to launch Film4oD. [5]

On 2 September 2014, Film4 debuted a new on-air look, designed by Man vs. Machine. [6] There are 15 new idents in the series which run alongside a new on-screen presentation. [7]

Subsidiary channels

Film4 +1

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 returned on 27 August 2013. [8] It continued to be broadcast on Sky, Virgin and Freesat during this time period. [9] As of November 2014, Film4 +1 became available via Freeview HD services only. [10] On 10 January 2019, Film4 +1 was moved from the Freeview HD PSB3 (DVB-t2) multiplex to the Freeview PSB-2 (DVB-t) multiplex thus making the service available to viewers who have not yet upgraded their television receivers for DVB-t2 reception. [11] The capacity on PSB-2 was made available by the "Sewing Quarter" service moving to Freeview COM6 (DVB-t) multiplex operated by Arqiva and available from all main and other transmitting stations, but not relays.

Film4 HD

On 20 July 2010, Film4 HD launched exclusively on Virgin Media's cable television platform on channel 429, it is only available on certain packages. [12] [13] Film4 HD launched on Sky on 2 September 2013, but requires customers to add the Sky HD upgrade to their subscription. [14] Film4 HD is not available on Freesat or Freeview.

Other channels

Later additional channels were added, FilmFour World and FilmFour Extreme which operated on a timeshare and the timeshift 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. [15] FilmFour Weekly ceased broadcasting on 19 July 2006 when the subscription service ended.

The channel offered an online Video on demand service, Film4oD until it was closed in July 2015.

Former logos

See also

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  1. "FilmFour closure: What does it mean for the UK film industry?". BBC News. 11 July 2002. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  2. "FilmFour failure is 'sad day'". BBC News. 9 July 2002. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  3. Malcolm, Derek (12 July 2002). "Where does British film go from here?". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  4. Gibson, Owen (6 February 2006). "Interview: Tessa Ross". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  5. Laughlin, Andrew (1 November 2010). "Channel 4 launches Film4 on-demand". Digital Spy. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  6. "Film4 reflects its 'passion and commitment to film' with new ident series".
  7. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 September 2014. Retrieved 3 September 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. "News: New Travel Channel, Film 4 and Film 4+1". Freeview. 1 August 2013. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  9. Tryhorn, Chris (5 July 2007). "Channel 4 launches '+1' timeshift service". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 July 2007.
  10. "4Viewers". Transmission/Technical Information: Howdo I get Film4+1?. Channel4. 2014. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  11. "Freeview merry-go-round as channels move". a516Digital. 6 January 2019. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  12. "Film4 HD to launch exclusively on Virgin Media". Virgin Media. 8 March 2010. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  13. "Film4 HD". Film4. Archived from the original on 27 July 2016. Retrieved 7 July 2010.
  14. "Sky adds Channel 4's 4oD to create the UK's most complete catch-up TV service". BSkyB. 15 March 2013. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  15. "FilmFour moves mainstream". BBC News. 31 March 2003. Retrieved 30 August 2013.