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Channel 4 reports 12.6% revenue rise

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Channel 4 logo at Channel 4 Headquarters

© Rex Features

Channel 4 has today announced a 12.6% increase in revenue last year and confirmed plans to invest £50 million in content in 2011.

In the first year under the new management team of chairman Lord Burns and chief executive David Abraham, Channel 4 saw its revenue grow to £935.2m, up from £830.3m in 2009, delivering an operating profit of £49.3m, up from just £3.9m in the previous year

The performance was buoyed by a £54m contribution from Channel's 4's portfolio of channels, up slightly on the £53.5m the previous year. Operating losses on the main Channel 4 network were reduced from £59.4m to just £7.7m, giving the broadcaster an overall profit after tax of £38.6m, up from £300,000 in 2009.

At a media briefing today at the Tate Modern in London, Abraham confirmed that Channel 4 has cash reserves of £261m. He said that the broadcaster wants to retain £100m as a 'rainy day' fund for fluctuations in the market, while a further £100m is required for upfront costs, such as paying suppliers in advance.

That leaves a pot of around £50m that can be invested in content, of which £15m has already been allocated to boost the annual budget of film financing division Film4.

Abrahams said that the remaining cash would be used to fuel "creative renewal", namely investments in new content and a "continued commitment" to new distribution methods, such as the recently-launched 4oD app for iPad.

However, he said that the broadcaster would remain "cautious" about its investments due to the uncertain market conditions in the rest of 2011.

Also in the Annual Report, Channel 4 said that total advertising sales (including music broadcaster Box TV) increased by 15.9% to £819m last year, buoyed by an ad market growth of 14.7%.

Channel 4's TV advertising revenues grew by £87.5m, including £63.4m on Channel 4, £23.2m on the digital channels and £900,000 on video on-demand. The broadcaster's online division saw a 71% growth in on-demand programme views last year, helping revenues increase by 34% to £44.3m.

Channel 4 spent £578m on content in 2010, up 5% year-on-year, with £362m going on original programming, such as My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and This is England '86.

Discussing the performance, Abraham said: "2010 was a year of transition and Channel 4 has entered 2011 ready for the future. We have a new management team in place, we are refreshing our schedules and we are ready to provide content wherever our audiences want to consume it.

"Across 2010 the increase in our revenue allowed us to make extra investment in content and key technological developments to benefit the audience. We also increased cash by £49.5m which will be used to invest in content and key strategic objectives in coming years; this puts us in a stronger position to meet the challenges of the future."

Also today, Channel 4's new chief creative officer Jay Hunt unveiled her first commissions, including a live show on class A drugs and the US version of hit drama The Killing.

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