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Channel 4 sale talk ‘destabilising’

The chief creative officer at UK broadcaster Channel 4 has said ongoing uncertainly about whether the territory’s government plans to privatise the public broadcaster is “destabilising”.

Jay HuntFormer government culture minister John Whittingdale had seemed set on changing C4’s operating model before exiting this summer. Jay Hunt told Edinburgh she understood a deal to take the network private was still possible.

“Sitting where I am sitting it is dispiriting to be sitting here one year later [after similar questions at last year’s Edinburgh event] and still not able to close that particular conversation,” she said. “It’s inevitable that for everyone at Channel 4, and for everyone who deals with Channel 4 that uncertainty is destabilising.

“One way or another we need some resolution on this. I find it absolutely breathtaking that one year after I was asked this question I am answering it again and we are none the wiser. We are planning into 2018, and I still don’t know the future of my organisation.”

Hunt made the comment during a panel session at the Edinburgh International television Festival, during which she focused on a bumper year of linear ratings at the London=based broadcaster.

During a session with the C4 content boss, Hunt revealed she had commissioned a series of shows. These include The Bisexual, which is billed as a “painfully hilarious look at the difference of dating men and women” through the eyes of young New York woman.

Jane Featherstone’s Sister Pictures, which has also bagged a commission from BBC One this week, will produce.

Desiree Akhavan, who stars, and Cecila Frugiuele are the writers on the show, which acting head of drama and comedy Nerys Evans commissioned.

Also on the slate is sitcom Derry Girls, which is set in a politically-charged Northern Ireland in 1994 and is from writer Lisa McGee.

Evans recently took over from Piers Wenger, who became the BBC’s drama chief.

On the factual front, C4 has commissioned a series from Argonon-owned Windfall Films in which modern men will be tasked with recreating one of the most grueling endurance tests in naval history.

Nine men will attempt to safety navigate a 4,000-mile journey from Tonga to Timor in a 23ft open wooden boat.

Hunt also used her session to reveal C4 was increasing its spend on kids-focused programming £2 million (US$2.5 million) to £5 million. C4 has faced government criticism for a perceived lack of investment in the children and teen space.