U.K. web may cut U.S. imports

OXFORD, U.K. — Channel 4 hopes to boost the U.K. creative economy by investing another £50 million ($80 million) in local content — but Hollywood will lose out, because part of the money will be diverted from the web’s acquisitions budget.

Speaking at the Oxford Media Convention, Channel 4’s CEO David Abraham said that the broadcaster’s spend on original U.K. content would increase to nearly $700 million this year. It is estimated that the web spent $620 million on homegrown fare last year.

Abraham said: “This strategy builds on what Channel 4 has always been about — supporting our investment in U.K. content and delivering our remit.

“It will also enable us to grow ratings and viewer engagement, and pump the revenue benefits back into content — and back into the U.K. creative industries.”

The broadcaster hopes to attract more 16-34 year olds.

Channel 4 could not be specify how much its acquisitions budget would suffer as a result of the hike in homegrown investment. But Abraham said the measure was possible because coin would be “shifted from acquired, mainly U.S., programming into U.K. commissioned programming.”

Channel 4 is a significant buyer of U.S. fare, latterly scoring with “Glee.”

But with paybox BSkyB regularly outbidding its free-to-air rivals, U.K. webs, including Channel 4, have become more selective in which U.S. shows they buy.

A Channel 4 spokeswoman said the move to beef up investment in U.K. content would not affect the budget of production arm, Film4, which stands at $23.4 million a year.

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