Channel 4: How to push at broadcasting boundaries and remain

Channel 4: How to push at broadcasting boundaries and remain
Channel 4: How to push at
broadcasting boundaries and
remain compliant
Channel 4 is an organisation that thrives on
taking creative risks, a creativity that builds
public engagement but can also contravene
codes and polices attached to a much
scrutinized industry.
The big question is how to encourage
competence not just compliant behaviour?
Channel 4 harnessed the power of e-learning
to capture its core values & use them to
produce exemplary professional practice that
still pushes the boundaries of broadcasting.
This story shows how they achieved this
juggling act to win E-Learning Awards 2014
Best e-learning project - public sector.
The business challenge
Public service broadcasters are high-profile organisations operating under great scrutiny. In
recent years, trust in the conduct of the major UK public service broadcasters has been eroded
by some well-publicised lapses.
Trust is critical to the bottom line for Channel 4 because its relationship with viewers directly
affects advertising sales revenues. So Chief Executive David Abraham made awareness of, and
adherence to, the Channel 4 Code of Conduct a key priority for all colleagues. But this
presented an inherent challenge…
Adherence with compliance policies and ‘codes of conduct’ has proved difficult to build in the
creative industries and broadcasting. Channel 4 in particular has a remit to push boundaries
and create ‘broadcasting explosions’. How do you build engagement with the necessary
constraints of ‘codes’ and ‘policies’ in an organisation that thrives on taking creative risks? This
case study explains how Channel 4 achieved this complicated juggling act, which resulted in
their winning E-Learning Awards 2014 Best e-learning project - public sector.
Developed by Towards Maturity. See for more case studies and resources.
What was the learning programme all about?
The Learning to Take Risks programme was introduced to meet head-on the apparent cultural
conflict between the Channel’s trusted edgy creativity on one hand and compliance to critical
codes and conducts on the other.
Online learning offers a powerful tool for reaching all colleagues with clear and consistent
messages, and can provide effective learning management to meet audit requirements. So the
challenge to Channel 4 and their partner Acteon Communication had to create a learning
experience that would engage colleagues and drive the behaviours that underpin reputation and
viewer trust.
Specific targets for the project:
• Ensure 90% of permanent colleagues have completed all aspects of the training by end
December 2014.
• Demonstrate raised awareness of the Channel 4 Code of Conduct
The Channel 4 Code of Conduct defines the
attitudes and behaviours that underpin the
reputation of the channel. It focuses on critical
areas of business risk such as personal
integrity, conflicts of interest, information
security, handling gifts and hospitality and
expenses. The Code sets out expectations for
all colleagues and links them to specific policies
and procedures that provide context and detail.
‘The Learning to Take Risks programme was very well received by staff across the business
and it soon got a reputation for making people stop and think in a good way – getting a critical
mass of people to have completed the training and talk positively about their experience of it
was key to the speedy up take across the business. The results were immediately measurable
with declarations on gifts and hospitality and conflict of interest going up. We keep completion
rates high at 95% and ensure that all new joiners complete the training as a condition of passing
their probation. This way we hope to maintain our reputation for creating ground breaking TV
programmes and news coverage and avoid becoming the news.’
Kathy Poole, Head of People Services.
What contributed to the success of the programme?
1) Linking learning to individual aspiration
To build engagement from learners, the ‘important but dull’ messages of compliance and
conduct was linked to the aspirational goals of taking risks and pushing boundaries. This was
encapsulated in the name of the course ‘Learning to Take Risks’, which connected with the
Developed by Towards Maturity. See for more case studies and resources.
‘Born Risky’ national campaign Channel 4 was running to celebrate its 30th anniversary. Woven
throughout the learning is the key message that cutting edge broadcasting is built on a
foundation of exemplary professional practice.
The visual identity of the e-learning
learning adopted Channel 4’s famous red triangle.
2) Reinforcing behaviour change
Rather than simply teach colleagues about
policies and procedures, behaviour change
was achieved by reinforcing the importance of
one key action throughout the learning –
ecking your conduct and asking ‘Is it OK?’
(The ‘Is it OK?’ question links to a key theme
from Channel 4’s acclaimed comedy chat
show ‘The Last Leg’.)
3) Using an authentic voice
Channel 4 has a very distinctive culture, which is highly valued by colleagues. In order to build
engagement and trust with learners it was essential to capture and convey this culture
throughout the learning content.
Style - Content
ontent is written to encapsulate Channel 4’s core values for colleagues: ‘Fearless’,
‘Curious’, ‘Cheeky’ and ‘With Heart’.
Imagery - Throughout the e-learning,
learning, bold imagery from Channel 4’s broadcast output
reinforces the key learning messages. This builds the link between the Code of Conduct and the
cutting edge broadcasting that Channel 4 delivers.
Voice - Where audio narration is used, it is provided by the familiar and popular voice of
Channel 4 continuity announcer.
Peer contributions - Learning to Take Risks
contains a wide range of content (mainly in video)
contributed by colleagues in a variety of roles, from graduate interns to the Chief Executive.
Developed by Towards Maturity. See
for more case studies
ies aand resources.
Placing learning in context
Throughout Learning to Take Risks, learning is driven by authentic scenarios, drawn from real
work situations at Channel 4. The scenarios present possible choices of conduct in a particular
situation and then pose the question ‘Is it OK?’ The scenarios are set in the context of key
messages from the Code of Conduct and reference the underpinning policies and procedures.
Scenarios are delivered in a variety of formats including:
Video-based ‘mini documentaries’
Dynamic scrolling stories
4) Technology - responsiveness, LMS
Channel 4’s workforce profile is young, creative and media-savvy. It was essential that the
content met their high expectations of interface and technology:
Attractive and engaging interfaces
A highly visual learning experience was created with minimal text on screen. Interfaces reflect
contemporary touch-screen design styles to facilitate use on mobile devices. Learning to Take
Risks blends text, graphics, audio and video with a wide range of learner interactions.
Developed by Towards Maturity. See for more case studies and resources.
Responsive HTML content
To maximise accessibility, Learning to Take Risks
has been created using responsive HTML
content formats. This allows the content to respond to the display size of the learner’s device
whilst still displaying and functioning correctly.
Powerful learning management
Learning management is provided by Acteon’s Knowledge Centre. This tool has been
integrated with the Channel 4 intranet to provide seamless access to the learning via a single
login. The Knowledge Centre provides an intuitive, contemporary interface for users to access
content, and is fully responsive for use on mobile devices.
Knowledge Centre makes it easy for Channel 4 to generate precisely the management
information required. Dynamic reporting functionality means that managers
managers can ‘cut’ usage and
completion data in any way they wish to meet specific audit requirements.
Developed by Towards Maturity. See
for more case studies
ies aand resources.
Communications - a campaign for change not just a promotion for a course
The critical challenge for the project was to build engagement with the necessary constraints of
‘codes’ and ‘policies’ in an organisation that thrives on taking creative risks.
To help address this, and to really drive behaviour change, the programme was delivered as six
focused modules released at weekly intervals and supported by a range of internal
communication. The result was a six-week campaign to staff around appropriate conduct and its
importance to the reputation of Channel 4.
Communication channels used to support each module included:
Posters: Delivered on internal graphic message boards with striking image and provocative
headlines to capture attention.
‘Message of the day’: A weekly slot in this important internal communication channel.
Message of the day is displayed to all staff when they first log in to their computer each
All staff emails: Sent from Chief Executive David Abraham at key points during the
implementation campaign.
Video teasers: Short impactful video delivered via the intranet throughout the campaign.
After initial roll-out, focused reporting from the Knowledge Centre was used to guide
communications from local managers to individuals or groups who needed additional prompting
and support to complete the learning.
Developed by Towards Maturity. See for more case studies and resources.
Components of the communication campaign
Developed by Towards Maturity. See
for more case studies
ies aand resources.
When the results are considered it’s important to remember that we are not just talking about
engagement but behaviour change,
change, and this is precisely what has occurred at Channel 4.
Enthusiastic uptake
Learning to Take Risks
achieved its critical audit
requirement of 90%
completion in only 11 weeks 24 weeks ahead of schedule.
Examination of uptake of the e-learning
learning over time shows the effectiveness
effectiveness of the campaign-led
approach with each communication initiative increasing the uptake of the programme
Engagement and behaviour change
An evaluation was conducted of 100 learners to assess their experience of Learning to Take
Risks and the impact of the learning on their behaviour.
80% colleagues likely to say they are more likely to report a conflict of interest
89% say they are more likely to declare gifts or hospitality
Developed by Towards Maturity. See
for more case studies
ies aand resources.
Colleagues report much greater awareness of the Code of Conduct as a result
of the e-learning.
The Director of Human Resources went onto comment The “is it OK?” theme was one that
resonated with our staff and was an innovative way to give ownership back to our people. The
results have been tangible. We have seen an increase in the number of declarations,
declaration and
questions simply checking
g if a particular action is OK.
Responses from delegates all followed a similar them , that the programme was ‘Interesting,
important and amusingly put together. A great achievement with what is essentially pretty dry
material. Video inserts with staff
taff were especially effective.’ ‘That the progrramme was intuitive
and ‘fits
fits perfectly with our culture and diverse learning styles.’
Learning to Take Risks has harnessed the full potential of online learning to truly change
behavior in order to meet a key business need for Channel 4. Engagement from staff has been
excellent, business impact has been demonstrated and critical audit requirements met.
Great communication,, combined with engaging, responsive content and powerful learning
management have created online learning that has captured the cultural values of Channel 4
and used them to reinforce essential behaviours.
Developed by Towards Maturity. See
for more case studies
ies aand resources.
Creating competence through compliance training
Move beyond the tick box with these 7 tips from Channel 4:
1) Make it personal - linking learning messages to personal
2) Focus on a simple internal check list that everyone can relate to
– Is it OK?
3) Use an authentic voice - local stories and stories that everyone
can relate to
4) Be risky- capture attention in creative ways
5) Make it easy – single sign on vs. intricate LMS navigation
6) Create a campaign for change – communicate regularly
7) Measure what matters – what are you doing differently?
Developed by Towards Maturity. See for more case studies and resources.
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