British TV broadcaster Channel 4's concerns over its financial future have led to the submission of several strategic options to media regulator Ofcom, including the takeover of one of the BBC's flagship radio stations, Radio 1.
C4, state-owned like the BBC, recently sought guidance from investment bank UBS [WAMN: 10-Aug-04] as it believes its television business alone may not be adequate to protect future finances.
The unexpected Radio 1 proposal would entitle Channel 4 to a slice of the BBC's licence fee, and may be included in Ofcom's forthcoming publication of the second phase of its Public Service Broadcasting review. The review will influence the renewal of the BBC Charter, due in 2006.
Among the other options submitted for Ofcom's perusal include the much-touted potential merger with rival commercial TV channel Five, direct government funding and complete privatisation.
Channel 4's growing interest in radio follows the recent development deal with top UK independent radio production company UBC Media.
Should the Radio1 takeover go ahead, it is likely to be just one of several moves to ensure financial security for the broadcaster, which currently funds its Channel 4 TV channel through advertising.
The deal would enable Channel 4 to benefit from sponsorship deals, although pressure from the commercial radio sector would almost certainly prevent it from taking ads.
It remains to be seen whether Ofcom will approve such a radical proposal, but the BBC will undoubtedly oppose the move.
Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff