Ofcom calls upon Channel 4 to review commissioning strategy

UK communications regulator Ofcom has called upon Channel 4 to review its commissioning strategy to ensure more programming is sourced from outside of England.

Ofcom welcomed an increase in programming spend and an increase in first-run programming at the advertiser-funded UK public service broadcaster. However, it also said the amount of programming sourced from UK countries aside from England (‘UK nations’) needs to increase.

Channel 4 met the minimum requirement for production from the UK nations, but still fell short of Ofcom’s expectations.

“Although the target has been exceeded in 2011, the proportion of production in the UK Nations has fallen compared with 2010,” Ofcom noted. “This is disappointing in the context of the overall increase in Out of London production for Channel 4, and growth in content investment in the UK Nations more widely. We will therefore look to C4C to review its commissioning strategy in this respect and for a commitment to sustainable increases in production in the UK Nations – both in TV production and other digital content investment – for 2012 and the years ahead.”

Ofcom said it would welcome Channel 4’s response and details of how it plans to address the shortfall of original programming from the UK nations.

The broadcaster published its 2011 annual report yesterday. Overall revenues increased £6.2 million, taking the total to £941.4 million and the broadcaster recorded an operating profit of £40.1 million, compared to £49.3 million in 2010. Revenues at flagship service Channel 4 declined by £19.5 million to £622.1 million driven by a loss in advertising share.

4Rights provided the financial highlight with revenues of £65.6 million up £17.8 million year on year. The rights exploitation unit of Channel 4 also reported a healthy increase in operating profits of £18.1 million, which compared to £7.4 million in 2010. The impressive financial performance was driven by the success of The Inbetweeners Movie.

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