C4 close to securing 4m sponsorship deal

Channel 4 is in advanced talks with a number of companies over two major programme sponsorship packages for its children’s and youth output, and its British drama.

The children’s sponsorship strand marks the first time that youth programmes have been sold in this way on terrestrial TV. The sponsorship will cover a full 52-week year and will be heavily concentrated on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Channel 4 chief executive Michael Jackson has already said the station’s drama and children’s output needed rejuvenation. When he was BBC2 controller, he commissioned cult drama series This Life, and is keen to get more work of this quality onto Channel 4. Next year the station plans 42 weeks of original British drama.

David Charlesworth, head of sponsorship at Channel 4, says: “These dramas will be contem-porary and aimed at a young up-market audience, which we have a good track record of reaching.”

Charlesworth says he is in talks with two or three companies about each deal, valued at more than 2m apiece. The channel’s last generic sponsorship deal covered all C4 sport and is worth 3m a year. It was signed in March with car maker Volkswagen.

Charlesworth could not confirm when either deal would be signed.

In February C4 poached ITV presenter and producer Andi Peters as commissioning editor for children and young people. His role is to revamp Channel 4’s youth schedule, which has a mixture of youth shows such as Wise Up and US imports including Saved By the Bell. His first new shows will be unveiled in November.

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