UK TV Funding crisis

07 May 2009

LONDON:  Some of the UK's leading commercial broadcasters are facing major funding crises. Top of the agenda at the moment are Channel 4 and sports channel, Setanta.

C4 chief executive Andy Duncan has been saying recently that his channel, which depends on advertising but which is ultimately controlled by the UK government, needs a £150m a year hand-out from the government to continue as its ad revenues are threatened by new digital channels and the internet.

He has been seeking a deal whereby C4 either gets some of the BBC's licence fee or is merged with the BBC's profitable Worldwide operation.

Yesterday, however, he said that C4 was still doing well and was confident about its advertising prospects. It suggests that there has been a disagreement on the C4 board about the right way to approach the UK government and media regulator Ofcom about C4's future.

The Ireland-based sports broadcaster Setanta, meanwhile, is reeling from the loss of its Saturday evening Premiership football rights to rival BSkyB.

It has failed to raise the £100m (€90m, $75m) it needs from shareholders and drafted in former EMAP magazines boss Sir Robin Miller to attract new investors.

Both these balls will ultimately land in the court of former JWT London and Ofcom boss Stephen Carter, who has been charged with charting the country's broadcasting future in a rather trying digital age.

Data sourced from Guardian; additional content by WARC staff.