UK Channel 4 Ad Slowdown Forces Slimming Regime

27 August 2008

LONDON: Britain's Channel 4 (a state owned but commercially funded hybrid, hobbled by an onerous PSB remit) is yet another victim of the ad revenue drought that currently afflicts the UK television industry.

By an odd coincidence, the gaze of journalists attending last week's Edinburgh International Television Festival somehow fell upon C4's (confidential?) forward ad bookings estimates: down 20% for September; 10% for October; and between 5% to 10% for November and December.

More coincidental yet, this dolorous data was glimpsed by journos at exactly the same time as the channel's future funding is under consideration by government communications watchdog Ofcom.

Even allowing for the massive variance (fifty percentage points) built into the channel's revenue projections for November and December, the figures indicate that C4 could be running at a loss by the year end – a situation that would breach its operating charter. 

Which - as some cynics have noted- is a useful negotiating ploy to arm-twist Ofcom into topslicing the BBC's licence fee to provide C4 with a handout of public money. 

They also observe that C4 chairman Luke Johnson (pictured above), a former journo himself, made his fortune as the boss of a pizza-chain where a thin layer of tasty toppings concealed a doughy base.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff