Channel 4 results robust but stark warning for future

Channel 4 has reported a record share of peak viewing and TV advertising as the broadcaster awaits greater clarification about its funding model and future strategy.

Channel 4 saw its share of peak viewing rise 1% to 12.7% and share of TV advertising jump to 24.1% in 2008.

However, the company forecasts TV ad revenues will drop 18% in the first half of this year and is budgeting to cut editorial spend by at least 10% across its network.

In 2008 total revenues fell 4% to £906.1 million and advertising revenues fell 4% to £789.7 million, reflecting the impact of the economic downturn on revenues for all broadcasters.

Efficiencies and a reduced programming budget mean Channel 4 turned in a cash surplus of £1.8 million compared to £500,000 in 2007.

The company said that it managed to compete strongly in 2008 despite having to cut programme budgets by £25.6 million or 4% to £598.6 million.

Chief executive Andy Duncan (pictured) says the company had acted in recognition of the recession and adds: “But we are facing the worst economic conditions in our history as well as the digital migration of audiences and revenues online and cost reductions will inevitably be even deeper in 2009. To maintain Channel 4’s creative and public impact a new and more sustainable funding model is needed for the future.”

Its digital arm saw 133 million views of Channel 4 programmes via on-demand services and 175 visits to channel4.com and E4.com.

Channel 4 is lobbying for direct Government funding once digital switchover is complete rather than the free analogue spectrum it is granted. However, its future is under scrutiny.

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