The UK’s Channel 4 is making a bold push into TV production with investments in four UK indies: Arrow Media, Lightbox, Popkorn and True North. The publicly owned broadcaster is taking minority stakes via its £20M Growth Fund, it says, “to aid the growth and development of these British creative businesses.” The Growth Fund was launched this year to nurture the independent sector. edinburgh-tv-fest__130513081136-200x49This is the first time in C4’s history it has made such investments and comes at a time when the UK business is super-hot — and shifting. Everyone from ITV to Warner Bros and Sony has acquired local producers in the past nearly two years, while Shine could be merging with Endemol and Core, and Viacom has bought broadcaster Channel 5. Channel 4 has traditionally outsourced its content.

Contrary to the U.S., rights tend to be retained by producers rather than networks in the UK, meaning C4 has little in the way of an exploitable library, and today’s moves could help correct that. CEO David Abraham said the investments announced today were “just the start” with more deals to come over the course of the next year. Abraham is giving the prestigious MacTaggart Lecture later today here at the Edinburgh TV Festival.

Arrow Media operates in the UK, the U.S. and elsewhere. It specializes in factual and factual entertainment content with credits that include Jumbo: The Plane That Changed The World, Dogs: Their Secret Lives and an upcoming Investigation Discovery crime series. Lightbox, founded by Oscar-winning producer Simon Chinn (Searching For Sugar Man, Man On Wire) and Emmy-winning producer Jonathan Chinn (American High), focuses on non-fiction programming in the UK and the U.S. Projects include Signal To Noise for Xbox; a political documentary series for Esquire Channel; digital pilot Screen Love for VH1; and a factual-based drama miniseries for the BBC. Popkorn produces factual documentaries and digital branded content. Past credits include Football Behind Bars, Living With My Stalker, Killers Behind Bars, and My Violent Child. True North works across documentaries, factual and factual entertainment including The Valleys (MTV), Building The Dream and Animal SOS.