Channel 4 may seek indie prodco stakes

Terrestrial in talks with Wall to Wall

LONDON — The U.K.’s Channel 4 is exploring a radical change of strategy by acquiring minority stakes in independent production companies.

The pubcaster is already in talks with drama and doc producer Wall to Wall Television, but any move into production must be approved by the Independent Television Commission. C4 was set up to broadcast shows by indie producers, rather than making programming inhouse.

In recent years, the web has forged closer relationships with key indie suppliers to secure premium projects in an effort to stave off growing competition from other channels.

In the past year, several of C4’s most prolific producers have been acquired by rival broadcasters, including Talkback, now part of RTL, Europe’s largest commercial broadcaster and the majority owner of Channel 5; Planet 24, swallowed by Carlton, one of the big ITV companies; and Ginger, snapped up by ITV player Scottish Media Group.

C4 reportedly has sounded out indies including RDF Media, Ideal World and Mersey TV. RDF confirmed the web had raised the idea of buying a stake but said no serious discussions had taken place. Tiger Aspect, one of the other indies reported to be a C4 target, denied it had been approached.

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