C4 remains confident of tie-up with BBC

Channel 4 chief executive, Andy Duncan, says discussions for a tie-up with BBC Worldwide are “going well” and remains “confident” of a positive outcome.

Duncan, who made the comments during a briefing in London today (May 6), is awaiting recommendations relating to Channel 4’s future in the communications minister Lord Carter’s Digital Britain report on June 18.

If the report recommendations do not fall in line with the broadcaster’s key objectives, which consist primarily of a tie-up with the BBC Worldwide and more public support, it will put pressure on Duncan to find an alternative answer to lift it out of the financial doldrums. There is speculation that it will also raise questions over the continued tenure of Duncan.

But he says its future is not contingent on the report and any scenario going forward will see the broadcaster continue to function.

“We’ve run the organisation prudently… [so] if nothing happens we will run the organisation as best we can,” he says. “What will suffer quite substantially is the amount of programming content money we can spend.”

On the BBC Worldwide, he says: “The broad concept of a significant partnership between us and BBC Worldwide has real potential… I think we both see a real synergy between the two organisations. The BBC, the holding company, I think are supportive of those conversations as are the Trust.”

He also reiterated Channel 4’s position against any tie-up with Five, which is likely to suffer a 30% fall in ad revenue in the first half of the year.

His comments come as Channel 4 today reported a 4% fall in advertising revenues to £789.7m in 2008. 

It is also anticipating that ad revenue in the first half of this year in the overall ad market will be down 17-18%. Channel 4 will be below the average and is forecasted to be down 15-16%.

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