C4 scrapes a profit despite downturn

Steve Dinneen
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Channel 4 survived the worst advertising downturn in its history to record a modest profit last year.

The broadcaster offset a loss of more than £60m on its terrestrial station with swingeing cost cuts and strong advertising performance in its digital offerings to finish the year £300,000 in the black.

The firm’s profit was significantly down on 2008’s £1.8m but the station believes it has now passed the worst of the downturn. Revenue at the broadcaster was down eight per cent year-on-year to £830m.

But the broadcaster saw record performances in its digital stations, with E4, More4, Film4 and 4Music seeing revenues jump four per cent to £181.3m and pushing profits up an astonishing 43 per cent to £53.4m.

Advertising through its video-on-demand service 4oD was up, driven by a 60 per cent rise in the number of full programme views over the year.

Overall advertising revenue on its eponymous terrestrial channel dropped 14 per cent year-on-year from £668.7m to £575.1m, plunging it in to a £61.6m loss.

The broadcaster’s total viewing share dipped three per cent to claim 11.5 of the total TV audience.

Chief executive David Abraham said: “We have created a stable financial base that allows us to commit to a fresh round of creative and commercial innovation, and position ourselves to take advantage of the ongoing convergence of television and other media.”

Meanwhile the broadcaster has been forced to defend its executive pay structure after outgoing chief executive Andy Duncan was awarded £731,000, taking total boardroom pay to nearly £4m last year. Chairman Lord Burns said the commitments dated back several years.