C4 could face merger into larger entity
According to leaked draft copy of Digital Britain reportLONDON -- In what would amount to a severe blow for Channel 4 chief executive Andy Duncan, the publicly owned broadcaster is thought to have lost out in its bid for increased public funding and may instead face the prospect of being merged with RTL-owned Channel Five, according to a report in the Financial Times.
Citing a leaked draft copy of the "Digital Britain" report being prepared by Communications Minister Stephen Carter for publication later this month, the newspaper said Friday that Channel 4 has lost out in its bid for extra financial support to meet the estimated 150 million pounds ($224 million) a year deficit it faces.
Instead, the channel is thought likely to become part of "larger entity" that will "combine private and public assets" and take on additional public service responsibilities in such genres as news.
If the report is correct, it would signal a major victory for the BBC, which would have fought the possibility of being forced to share its license fee income with Channel 4.
The DCMS has declined comment on the FT report, pointing out that the draft copy had not been concluded. "Ministers have not yet taken decisions and the draft does not reflect policy," a spokeswoman said.
Channel 4 chief executive Andy Duncan was quoted by the paper as saying that the broadcaster's problems needed "bold, radical solutions" and that he was "broadly happy with the direction of travel with the conversations going on."
Duncan has resisted merger proposals with RTL-owned Five before. One of his first decisions when joining as CEO three years ago was to end merger discussions that had been proposed by his predecessor Mark Thompson, now director general of the BBC.