For many people their 39th birthday is a cause for reflection. One year off from the big four zero, where is your life going? Are you living up to the expectations of those who love you? Indeed are you living up to your own expectations of yourself?
Will anybody at Channel 4 be thinking those thoughts today? And what about those viewers who once (and perhaps still do) see it as a special channel which has achieved change in society over the course of its life?
The channel burst onto our screens just before 4.45pm on 2nd November 1982.
In its first 20 or so years, of course, it was a very different beast. It featured an eclectic range of programmes most of which were either deliberately innovative or designed for special interests.
But even if some parts of the old magic survive, modern Channel 4 has had a rotten few months.
A renewed debate about privatisation has galvanised the independent production sector. But it has failed to attract much interest from the viewing public.
Are they just apathetic in the face of the traumas so many of us have faced over the past 19 months? Or do they just think that modern Channel 4 is simply another commercial broadcaster?
Certainly Lord (Michael) Grade’s support for privatisation cannot be dismissed. Remember this is the man who saw off the threat in the late 80s and 90s.
Michael Grade is also one of the few TV executives who actually enjoys a deserved reputation as a friend of the viewing public. Under him Channel 4 did retreat from some of its early radicalism but it still spoke with a distinctive voice.
A firm chaired by Lord Grade (who is, of course, a Conservative peer) is rumoured to be considering a bid for Channel 4, as is ITV.
However if Lord Grade’s views show that there are two sides to this debate, the past few weeks have been a PR disaster for a broadcaster which over its life has championed diversity and inclusion.
The loss of subtitling and access services for so long begs important questions about resilience arrangements. But the disaster also risks its public reputation.
By the time Channel 4 marks its big birthday, its future should be clear.
It may have seen off privatisation again – perhaps in return for some clearer PSB obligations. It may have a new owner which values its brand and its role in public service broadcasting.
Or it may be the British branch of an international giant – though the government insists privatisation wouldn’t simply be about a sale to the highest bidder.
An interesting few months lie ahead.
PICTURED: Channel 4 ident. COPYRIGHT: Channel 4 Television Corporation.