Thompson urges C4/Five merger

BBC director-general Mark Thompson has supported a merger between Channel 4 and Five to plug C4’s future funding gap. Thompson today (January 12) called on the government to support the industry with “the right kind” of public-private collaboration.

Thompson, writing in today’s Financial Times, says that “top-slicing” the licence fee, one of a series of proposals put forward to help fund C4, was inadequate and risked undermining the “last strong part of the system” and breaking the public’s connection between the BBC and the licence fee.

He says a merger would offer both long and short-term benefits such as cost savings and an increase in scale across advertising sales and programme acquisition.

“If the goal is sustainable public service broadcasting beyond the BBC in the long term, consolidation may be part of the solution,” says Thompson, who as chief executive of C4 in 2004 favoured a merger with Five.

Channel 4 faces a £150m financial shortfall in the run-up to digital switchover and the Government is looking at options including privatising the broadcaster, giving it a portion of the BBC licence fee or raising more public cash.

Thompson also says that most serious challenge is how public service television can migrate to digital platforms and “stimulate demand for universal high-speed broadband”.

Thompson adds: “The industry must now take the critical steps towards the major restructuring without which it cannot thrive in the UK or compete internationally. What UK broadcasting needs is the same as the rest of the economy: simplification, consolidation and the right kind of public-private collaboration.”

Latest from Marketing Week

NOT REGISTERED? IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email subscriptions@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here