Should business leaders think beyond profits and the bottom line?

Delivering public value has always been, and remains, the driving purpose behind Channel 4’s activities both on and off-screen. As a not-for-profit – but commercially self-sufficient – public service broadcaster with a remit to promote new perspectives and inspire change, we are proud of the impact that we have made on society beyond our bottom line. From broadcasting the first pre-watershed lesbian kiss in Brookside to our hard-hitting Paralympics coverage, we have continually challenged stereotypes and fundamentally shifted public attitudes on a range of taboo issues throughout our history.

Pursuit of such public value outcomes need not necessitate a commercial compromise or a financial constraint. Our viewers and advertising partners come to us because they recognise and appreciate the uniqueness of the public value we offer in British broadcasting, which in turn allows us to deliver further impactful programming for the benefit of our audiences. Our recent Born Risky trailer (below) – with its message of ‘putting profits back into programming’ – reinforced the concept of this positive relationship between public value and private enterprise.

We are not alone in this area. A growing public value movement is developing in this country, one in which organisations understand that social and cultural missions – from educational outreach to environmental conservation – can be fulfilled alongside business sustainability, rather than at its expense. It is important that we facilitate the development of this movement, which is why Channel 4 is working alongside similar organisations this year to investigate potential levers to nurture this growth.

Distinctiveness remains a key driver of business growth across all sectors. Those organisations who can demonstrate the strength of their ‘value added’ impact on wider society and community – what they deliver above and beyond the narrower pursuit of profits – hold a key advantage in standing out as innovative and forward-thinking in increasingly crowded markets.

Dan Brooke is Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Channel 4.

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