Channel 4 to switch BB budget to drama

Channel 4’s original drama budget will be boosted by £20 million following the decision to axe Big Brother after the 2010 series.

Red Riding
Red Riding

The broadcaster will have 200 first run hours in peak time to fill across Channel 4 and E4 from 2011 and the broadcaster will be investing in new programming to fill the schedule. Due to long lead times, the broadcaster has already begun reviewing its drama commissioning strategy.

Director of television and content Kevin Lygo says that Channel 4 will now review its commissioning strategies in all genres and that the decision not to recommission Big Brother was driven by creative considerations rather than commercial ones.

He says: “Big Brother is still profitable for Channel 4 despite its reduced popularity and there could have been the option to renew it on more favourable terms. That’s what a purely commercial broadcaster would have done, but Channel 4 has a public remit to champion new forms of creativity. That remit to push the boundaries has been an essential part of the weird chemistry behind Big Brother’s success, but it’s now what is telling us that the programme has reached a natural end point on Channel 4 and it’s time to move on.”

He added that cancelling Big Brother did not solve Channel 4’s funding issues which have been even further exacerbated by the downturn in TV advertising revenues.

Lygo says: “However, assuming advertising revenues stop deteriorating at some point, we should have greater flexibility in how we spend our commissioning budget; the significant sums that have been committed to Big Brother in the past should now be available to boost budgets in genres, such as drama, that have had to be cut back sharply during the downturn.”

The broadcaster is intent on delivering more “event dramas”, such as The Devil’s Whore and Red Riding (pictured). It has already commissioned a four part serial from film director Shane Meadows.

Lygo added that while Channel 4 was not looking for a direct replacement for Big Brother it intended to maintain a sense of fun around its summer schedule.

The broadcaster is currently looking for a chairman to replace Luke Johnson , who is stepping down after serving his six year term.

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