Channel 4 abandons radio ambitions

Broadcasters continues to cut costs

LONDON — Cash-strapped British web Channel 4 has abandoned its much-hyped ambition to become a key player in U.K. radio — a fortnight after topper Andy Duncan defended the plan on the grounds that it would provide a new revenue stream.

The broadcaster, in the throes of an economy drive sparked by an advertising downturn, said jettisoning radio would save it up to $17 million next year and contribute to the $170 million savings it has announced as its ad revenues fall by 5%.

Channel 4 CEO Andy Duncan said: “We’ve taken this decision very reluctantly. We’ve pursued our radio plans in good faith and continue to believe DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) has a strong future and that we could make a return from radio in the medium term.

“Frustratingly, our plans have been overtaken by a drastic recent downturn in our revenues and we will have to forgo this future profit stream. “

“We can no longer afford the short-term investment necessary given that we are having to cut so deeply across all parts of the organization.”

Channel 4’s planned move into radio, intended in part to offer competition to the all-powerful BBC and the much-admired speech network Radio 4, was looking increasingly controversial in view of the web’s campaign for an annual public subsidy of at least $170 million.

But when at a Royal Television Society talking shop, held Sept. 26, Duncan was asked to justify the move he said that it would help provide the broadcaster with a much-needed new revenue stream.

Clearly, there has subsequently been a change in heart. Up to 15 jobs will go as a result of the decision.

Last month, Channel 4 announced a 4% cut to program budgets and the loss of 150 jobs.