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Channel 4 gives cash boost to film

Film4 budget to rise to $23.8 million a year

LONDON — Brit pubcaster Channel 4 is upping the budget of its film financing division, Film4, to £15 million ($23.8 million) per year for the next five years.

New budget, effective from 2011 onwards, reps a 50% increase on Film4’s current spend on feature development and financing, and marks the second cash hike to the budget this year.

In May, pubcaster put a $3.2 million cash injection into its budget, returning it to its 2008 level of $15.9 million before the global economic downturn.

News will be welcome to the Brit pic biz, which is still waiting to hear how lottery money from the U.K. Film Council, which was shuttered on July 26 and is now effectively in wind-down mode, will be distributed in the future.

“It’s wonderful to be able to deliver some good news to our industry, most importantly because we believe that there is a wealth of great talent here in the U.K. that this extra money will allow us to support,” said Tessa Ross, controller of Film4 and Channel 4 Drama. “At a time when funding is increasingly difficult to access it will allow us to extend our reach further towards new voices and audiences.”

David Abraham, Channel 4 chief exec, said: “Film has a special and unique role in U.K. culture, promoting a wealth of extraordinary British talent from storytellers and producers to directors and actors. I have been determined during the current process of creative renewal to ensure that it plays a commensurate part in Channel 4’s public service delivery.”

Film4 is one of the three major funding bodies in the U.K. that invest in local fare: the U.K. Film Council, which comes to halt in April 2012, invests an annual $22.8 million of lottery money into production of Brit pics, while BBC Films invests around $18 million a year.

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