Channel 4 Mulls Merger Or Bust?

channel4buildingTV broadcaster Channel 4 (UK) have been rumoured to be in financial trouble for some time. Currently they are are a public service broadcaster who fund themselves despite being publicly owned unlike the BBC which is funded by the annual license fee.

The department of culture, media and sport has denied that an upcoming  ‘Digital Britain’ report by Lord Carter will suggest that Channel 4 merges into a new public service body, possibly seeing the BBC sacrifice their majority holding in BBC Worldwide as a way of Channel 4 remaining financially viable.

Mixing Oil And Water

The BBC would probably not like to see Channel 4 brought under the wing of the TV license fee funding and so may be willing to allow BBC Worldwide , a profitable wing of the Beeb(earning £112 million last year with the Radio Times and BBC DVD’s part of its offerings) to be offered up in this way though BBC Director-General Mark Thomson has suggested that he’d rather see Channel 4 and Five merge which was not initially received well by Channel 4 chief executive Andy Duncan who described the prospect as akin to mixing ‘oil and water’.

Big Brother

Channel 4 are perhaps less known these days for the edgy niche content it broadcast in the early years of its inception in November 1982. Over the years they have brought us programmes such as  Countdown, The Tube, The Snowman, Father Ted  and The IT Crowd and part funded films via its Film Four wing but Big Brother was its cash cow for funding which let it subsidise departments such as the well respected Channel 4 news but with controversy in recent years dogging the Big Brother franchise and the end probably in site for the reality TV stalwart the channel is now looking at other sources of funding to stay afloat.

Ofcom has calculated that Channel 4 needs £100 million a year to survive.Less than this and the Channel will allegedly go bankrupt.The channels public service remit currently includes the provision of programmes for schools.

Channel 4 programmes

Sources: 1 2 3
Photoshop image of the Richard Rogers Partners designed Channel 4 HQ by nick.garrod under this creative commons license

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3 thoughts on “Channel 4 Mulls Merger Or Bust?

    • Hi SB. They’re not connected. They just took Channel 4’s allocated channel frequency in Wales and launched the day before Channel 4 but otherwise are not connected (Channel 4 is available in Wales these days but on a different channel allocation).S4C is therefore funded differently with advertising and an annual grant from the government unlike Channel 4 who receive no government money and are self funded. Also S4C don’t make programmes and can commission from independent producers and the BBC.So as far as I know there is no threat to S4C. I can’t see Channel 4 just dying but it’s a question of whether they can either become a full non-commercial PSB (Public service broadcaster) with access to the big pot of money that is the license fee, merge into BBC worldwide or merge with Five.As Channel 4 is not-for-profit and Five is they would perhaps make awkward bedfellows. One of the big worries is school programmes which ITV got to offload onto Channel 4 but maybe they could be eased onto a dedicated or shared digital channel.

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