British broadcaster Channel 4 is to increase its annual programming budget in 2018 thanks to a result of an improving ad market and has targeted a renewed push in late night entertainment.
Recently installed Chief Executive Alex Mahon said that it would be boosting its content spend ahead of the arrival of former BBC executive Ian Katz as Director of Programmes in January. C4 spent £501M (US$670M) on original content last year and £695M (US$930M) on total content, including acquisitions and sports rights. Speaking at C4’s Christmas party, Mahon said: “The ad market is looking a little better so we’ve got a bit more money to put in, we’re going to put more money into the schedule next year. Ian Katz is joining us in January and he’ll be working to put some big new shows into the schedule and we’ve got a bit of money to spend on big slots.”
The former Shine Group boss added that it was keen to bolster its original commissions at 11pm, the slot that it previously ran entertainment series such as The Word and The Girlie Show. “We’re going to do more entertainment and comedy and want to build on that and want to put money into 11pm in the schedule so we can bring new talent in,” she added. C4 is currently developing a satirical series with Ronan Farrow, the New Yorker journalist who exposed Harvey Weinstein, and The Daily Show co-creator Madeleine Smithberg, for this slot. The 30-minute show, which had a working title of Cocks News, will offer a satirical take on the UK as seen through the eyes of America and is produced by Canadian indie Soshefeigh Media out of LA.
“We’re looking at how we explore those public service themes with a bit of reality, innovation and in the era of fake news and anti-democracy in some parts for the media, working out how we reflect Britain politically, culturally and socially. How we innovate creatively is a big part of what we want to do in 2018 and 2019,” she added.
Mahon, who joined C4 in October from VFX firm The Foundry, also highlighted a number of scripted dramas and comedies that will launch in the new year. She pointed to Jack Thorne-penned thriller Kiri, Hulu space co-pro The First, Northern Irish comedy Derry Girls and Stephen Mangan’s Hang Ups, a remake of Lisa Kudrow’s Showtime series Web Therapy. She also thanked outgoing Deputy Chief Creative Officer Ralph Lee for shepherding the C4 commissioning team following the departure of Jay Hunt to Apple earlier this year. Lee departs in January.