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C4 spinoff E4 bumps program budget

Move partly prompted by end of 'Friends'

LONDON — Channel 4 digital spinoff web E4, which airs U.S. shows “Friends,” “Desperate Housewives” and “The OC,” will hike its program budget by 50%.

The move is partly prompted by the demise of “Friends,” which gave E4 its highest ratings.

By pumping in an extra £20 million ($36 million) C4 hopes to make the loss-making web, aimed at the 16-24 demographic, more competitive in the increasingly crowded marketplace.

“E4 has enjoyed fantastic creative and commercial success in its first four years on air and has reached operating profit a year ahead of forecast,” said C4 CEO Andy Duncan.

“Now is the right time to be boosting our investment in the channel in line with our strategic objective of strengthening our channels’ impact in multi-channel homes.”

The news of the extra money comes as Julian Bellamy is appointed the new head of E4, replacing Murray Boland, who is joining Celador Prods.

Bellamy takes charge of E4’s programming in addition to his existing role as C4’s head of factual entertainment, reporting to director of television, Kevin Lygo, in both roles.

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