Channel 4 pledges $7 bil investment

Director of content Kevin Lygo promises regional cash

LONDON -- Channel 4 will invest as much as 5 billion pounds ($7 billion) in creative content over the next decade if it secures investment to support its public service mission, director of content Kevin Lygo said Tuesday.

Speaking at a regional programming conference in the northern city of Manchester, Lygo said that the broadcaster would commit 1.5 billion pounds ($2.1 billion) to commission programming from outside London over the period at a time when other commercial broadcasters are scaling back their regional investment.

But he stressed that the commitments "would depend heavily" on the outcome of current policy debates about the future of public service broadcasting and dismissed "short-term" solutions -- thought to be a reference to the proposal to merge the publicly owned broadcaster with RTL-owned Five.

"There is a huge opportunity for the creative industries to be a key driver of the U.K.'s economy in the next decade, and we must ensure that we do everything we can to maximize this opportunity to build a strong and vibrant digital Britain," Lygo said.

Discussions on the future of public service broadcasting are about to come to a head with the publication of media regulator Ofcom's public service review on Wednesday and the publication of a separate review from communications minister Stephen Carter next week.