Summary:

Channel 4 may alter its timetable for making investments from its 4iP digital fund, as it sits out the downturn and goes through its cost-cu…

imageChannel 4 may alter its timetable for making investments from its 4iP digital fund, as it sits out the downturn and goes through its cost-cutting programme. The broadcaster this year set aside £20 million as its contribution to the £50 million startup innovation fund, the rest of which will come from regional media development agencies. New media director Jon Gisby told paidContent:UK C4’s contribution was safe: “It’s set aside, but it may have to be re-phased, in terms of how we string that money out along the course of the project.”

So while C4 is still committed to investing the total amount already pledged, it’s thought it may make smaller investments at the start and keep the bulk until later. C4 has also extended the length of the project from two to three years. Not all the money will come as formal investments; C4 may also offer other services like marketing support, a spokesperson later said. “If we don’t have some spectacular failures, we won’t have taken enough risks,” Gisby said of 4iP, speaking at C21’s FutureMedia conference. We understand the first investments from the fund may be announced next week.

Gisby said C4’s funding woes will have no bearing on its Kangaroo involvement, but he wouldn’t be drawn further on that project while the antitrust inquiry continues, telling delegates: “What Kangaroo is and becomes is entirely at the discretion of the Competition Commission. Is there any connection between Kangaroo and the funding issues we’ve got? Absolutely not.”

Facing a £100 million budget shortfall, C4 has already been cutting back on jobs and its digital commitments. It’s abandoning red-button and mobile ad sales, has closed its 4DS digital ad sales house and is exiting its 4 Digital radio joint venture. A plan announced in September to save £50 million by cutting 150 jobs (15 percent of its workforce) will now draw to a close with its final redundancies by year’s end, a spokesperson said.

“It’s tough,” Gisby told conference delegates. “This side of Christmas, there are likely to be job losses that result from (C4’s funding problems). Are there efficiencies that can be made? Are there things that we should stop doing?” September’s review is leading to cuts “across the board”, including from his new media portfolio, Gisby later paidContent:UK. The September plan offered 90-day consultations to staff and, whilst C4 offered some voluntary redundancies, sadly some compulsory redundancies have also had to be made, the spokesperson said, adding the process is ongoing and will complete by year’s end.

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