C4 nabs 9% profit as it battles ITV

Revenues grew by 6% to $1.52 billion

Channel 4, the U.K.’s advertiser-funded public service broadcaster, has hiked profit by 9% as further evidence emerged that it is closing the gap on the embattled ITV network.

Announcing annual results from the year ended Dec. 31, C4 revealed a 9% profit of £48.5 million ($82.4 million) compared with $76 million in 2004 as revenues grew by 6% to $1.52 billion.

CEO Andy Duncan pledged another $85 million to spend on programs and content, bringing the total to more than $1.06 billion this year, vs. last year’s $974 million.

Last year C4, famed for its edgy, innovative fare, was the only U.K. terrestrial web to maintain audience share.

C4’s portfolio of channels includes C4, E4, More4 and FilmFour.

Its performance is especially strong with the hard-to-reach 16-34 age group. Last year, C4’s combined share in this demographic grew to 17.7 %, up 15 % year on year.

“It is only a matter of time before we overtake ITV in terms of portfolio share among young audiences,” said a bullish Duncan.

The annual report revealed that the outfit spent $60 million on movies last year, compared with $44 million in 2004, more evidence of the increasing prices British webs are forking out for feature films.