Publicly-owned UK commercial broadcaster Channel 4 announced a year-on-year rise in turnover of 12% to £716 million in 2001, attributing the increase to the success of fly-on-the-wall game show Big Brother and spoof ‘yoof’ character Ali G.

Operating profit actually fell 25% to £33.8 million, due to rising investment in new projects such as youth-oriented digital channel E4. One such venture, the company’s FilmFour channel, had a particularly strong 2000, with turnover doubling to £8.8m.

“Last year was, by any measure, the most successful in Channel 4’s history,” declared chairman Vanni Treeves, before restating the company’s hostility to plans by the Conservative Party [the largest opposition political party] to privatise the channel.

Such sentiments were echoed by chief executive Michael Jackson: “The benefits of Channel 4’s not-for-profit structure have never been clearer,” he stated. “Our dividend to viewers is greater creative risk, a higher proportion of income invested back into programmes and services and a far more diverse range of programmes than other commercial broadcasters.”

The broadcaster also announced that its share of total TV audiences last year rose 2% on 2000 to 10.5%. In multi-channel households, this figure stood at 7.2%, a rise of 0.3%. However, Jackson warned that increasing competition in the digital TV sector could make it difficult to equal such an “outstanding performance” in the future.

News source: BBC Online Business News (UK)