Channel 4 will order less from column USA

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Channel 4 is scaling back spending on U.S. acquisitions by 20% during the next five years as part of wide-ranging plans to foster more British creative talent, CEO Andy Duncan said Thursday.

Before an audience of regulators, politicians, academics and journalists, Duncan unveiled a major new public-service blueprint — dubbed Next on Four — that will call for an estimated £150 million ($304.4 million) a year of subsidies to bridge a future funding gap.

Duncan declined to discuss specifics of how the gap could be bridged, saying that was "a matter for government" to decide.

"This has been the most extensive review of our public purpose in Channel 4's history," Duncan said. "We will need (public) policy support to allow us to deliver this blueprint."

Duncan said Channel 4 will launch a £50 million ($101.5 million) fund to invest in public service digital media content and commit £10 million ($20.3 million) a year toward programming targeted at 10- to 15-year-olds.

The broadcaster, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2007, also plans to refocus its content by scaling back its studio acquisitions by about 20% to about £35 million ($71.1 million) a year during the next five years, then use the cash to deliver more homegrown product.

"U.S. fare is no longer cost-effective for us to buy," director of television Kevin Lygo said. "We'll still try to buy the best series, but we will buy less volume and spend less money."

U.K. media regulator Ofcom is undertaking its own review of Channel 4's funding position, which is due to outline possible funding options for the government-owned broadcaster by as early as April.
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