Belfast Telegraph

Advertising growth sees Channel 4 profits soar

By Ravender Sembhy

Channel 4 has enjoyed a bumper year, with revenues rising to a record £979m in 2015, up from £938m in 2014, driven by strong advertising.

Digital revenues were up 30% to £82m, from investment in the All4 platform and a growth in targeted advertising, and revenue from the Channel 4 sales house, which includes sales for broadcasters such as UKTV and BT Sport, stood at £1.17bn.

Its viewing share also rose 1% across the country, rising to 8% in peak hours.

Channel 4, a publicly-owned broadcaster funded by advertising, says it put £629m into programming last year, including a record £455m on original content. But it is under continued government pressure to try to get better value for viewers.

Full privatisation is thought to be off the table, it has been reported, but part-privatisation is thought to be among the options - which Channel 4 executives fear could be the slippery slope towards a full sale.

Speaking at the release of its annual report, chief executive David Abraham said the uncertainty about the broadcaster's future had become a "distraction".

He said: "We very much hope that our team and our staff and all of our great partners can just get on with our jobs at some point, because this has gone on for quite some time."

Channel 4 chairman Charles Gurassa said there were no plans to meet with government, but executives were "always available to provide them with information and give them a view on any specific options that they develop".

And he said he would "ensure" the government understands the consequences and implications of a change of ownership". He added: "This organisation is a catalyst for bringing private capital into the creative industries in this country. That's what we do.

"We bring half a billion a year into small enterprises, enabling them to deliver and build creative content and go on then to sell that content around the globe.

"We are a brilliant organisation for attracting private capital."

Belfast Telegraph