Channel 4 has reported record revenues, though its balance sheet took a hit from last year’s advertising market slowdown.
The corporation today said its turnover for 2016 came in at £995m, up 1.6 per cent from £979m in 2015. Digital revenues grew 24 per cent to £102m, making up 10 per cent of the total.
However, the broadcaster revealed that it was forced to eat into its £495m balance sheet, citing the “advertising market going into decline following the EU referendum”.
As a result, the board made the decision to deploy £15m from the channel’s content reserves “to protect remit delivery and invest in core projects such as the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games”. With “a deliberate £15m accounting deficit”, Channel 4’s closing balance sheet for the year was £477m.
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Channel 4 also said it had invested a record amount in British content during the year, committing £501m, up from £455m.
During the year, Channel 4 worked with 317 suppliers, up from 295 in 2015, including 70 that were new to the broadcaster. Film4’s budget was increased from £15m to £25m.
Channel 4 was in the spotlight during 2016 as the government considered whether to privatise the broadcaster, which is publicly owned and privately funded.
In March, the government shelved plans to sell off the broadcaster but launched a consultation on moving the corporation out of London.
The Conservatives then pledged to relocate Channel 4 in its manifesto ahead of the General Election.
Chief executive David Abraham, who is soon leaving to be replaced by Alex Mahon, said:
The 2016 results demonstrate the scale and range of Channel 4’s creative and commercial innovation, with the second successive year of record revenue delivery underpinned by strong digital growth and our highest ever investment in UK-produced content which culminated in the exceptional delivery of the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.
In a few months I will be stepping down as chief executive and I am very proud of everything that Channel 4 has achieved over the past seven years. I will hand over a business with a strong balance sheet and in good brand health – well positioned to successfully navigate the current economic uncertainty affecting the advertising market.