Channel 4 steady, but feeling ad pinch

Kevin Lygo outlines fall schedule highlights

EDINBURGH -- A year after Channel 4's decision to move away from commercial hits like "Celebrity Big Brother" in favor of more public service content, director of television Kevin Lygo said the broadcaster is maintaining overall audience share but being squeezed by the advertising downturn.

Speaking Friday at the launch of the broadcaster's fall season, Lygo said that, while audiences for Channel 4's group of channels, which includes More4 and E4, have "held steady" with 12% of total viewing, the company is feeling the effects of an advertising recession.

While audience share for E4 and More4 is up, flagship net Channel 4 saw its audience share fall 8% in the last year. That still represents a slowdown from 2007's slide of 17%, according to channel boss Julian Bellamy. Nevertheless, he said that the channel's budget will be cut.

"There will have to be some savings, we will know more about how much in the next two months," Bellamy said.

Topping the fall schedule will be a "state-of-the-nation" study on British family life that will feature a new observational documentary "The Family," which provides an intimate portrait of family life in the 21st century.

In "The Ascent of Money," historian Niall Ferguson examines the role of money and finance in shaping the modern world, while in "Catastrophe," actor-presenter Tony Robinson looks at the history of natural disasters.

Drama highlights include "The Devil's Whore," a new epic telling of the history of the English Civil War, and actress Samantha Morton's directorial debut, "The Unloved," from Revolution Films, the story of a 9-year-old girl in the state-run care system.
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