UK's Channel 4 States Case for Public Cash

17 March 2008

LONDON: UK broadcaster Channel 4 is continuing to press for state funding - to the tune of around £150 million ($303.5m; €195m) a year by 2012, attendees at last week's Next on 4 event were told.

The publicly-owned company, currently bankrolled by advertising revenues, claims fragmentation and media diversification are making it increasingly difficult to fulfil its public service remit.

It claims news services and documentary strands could be under threat unless public funding becomes available. However chairman Luke Johnson and ceo Andy Duncan remain zip-lipped as to the potential sources of this cash.

During a recent meeting with parliamentarians the duo were were urged to express their preferred options, which could include a 'top slice' of the BBC's annual licence fee (paid by all TV-owning homes); or payments direct from the public purse.

Duncan announced £10m funding for youth-targeted  programmes, in addition to an annual £10m contribution to a new £50m fund set-up to promote public service content on the web and other digital technologies.

But executives from rival broadcasters are sceptical about Channel 4's public service credentials.

Said one anonymous critic: "How are we to know if the £150m they are asking for will be used to make news and documentaries rather than to subsidise a deal with Endemol for another run of Big Brother?"

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff