Channel 4’s portfolio of digital television channels will make a profit for the first time this year, according to chief executive Andy Duncan.
He says the portfolio, which includes entertainment channel E4 and free-to-air film channel Film4, will contribute to the broadcaster’s bottom line rather than being subsidised by the flagship station.
One external estimate puts C4 digital revenue at about £97m for 2007, an increase on the £88.6m generated in 2006.
Duncan made the claim in an interview with Marketing Week on the eve of the broadcaster’s 25th anniversary next month. He says: “[The] multi-channels will make a profit for the first time. That’s only going to grow and is a new source of income for us.”
Last year C4 profits plummeted 70% to £14.5m and the broadcaster’s ad revenues from its main channel fell broadly in line with the TV market, which was down about 7%.
Duncan estimates that other ventures, such as the on-demand internet service 40D, will generate money “in a couple of years”.
He also believes that urgent action is needed to measure viewing on the internet and through time-shifting devices such as personal video recorders.
“This is going to be very big indeed,” he says. “The industry needs to find a way to measure it [because] in a few years’ time a quarter or half of content will be time-shifted.
“If we are not capturing those figures properly, then that is going to be a major problem for advertisers and for our sales teams.”
But Duncan dismisses the threat of C4 privatisation as “unlikely” under this government or under a future government. He adds: “I passionately think that privatisation would destroy all that we are there for.”