UK's Channel Four Rings Changes Over Public Money

05 November 2004

In a marked policy U-turn British broadcaster Channel Four, state owned but commercially funded, says it now needs public money.

Without an injection of funds from the taxpayer the channel claims it will be forced to abandon its public service remit to become more commercial in the face of increased competition for advertising revenue.

C4 warns it faces a cash shortfall of £100 million ($184m, €144m), some of which might be met by tie-ups with state-funded broadcaster, the BBC, and commercial TV station Five. But these deals will not solve the whole problem.

Says deputy chairman Barry Cox: "Channel 4 has hitherto been rather sniffy about the idea of public money; but going forward we will take a more serious look than we have to date. We did start off with a reluctance to move away from a market-led model. We are rethinking."

The station is keen to develop and become part of UK broadcasting watchdog Ofcom's Public Service Publisher concept which could provide £300m of taxpayers' money to produce high quality TV shows.

Adds Cox: "This could work really well for us if we're part of it - and if not it will probably make life harder."

Ofcom has produced a draft PSP tender document inviting media, telecoms and interactive companies to put forward proposals on the running of the PSP concept, to be discussed at an industry meeting early December.

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