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SBD Global/May 15, 2013/Media

Britain's Channel 4 Reports £29M Loss In '12 Due To Paralympics Coverage, Content Boost

British TV broadcaster Channel 4 has reported a loss of £29M ($44M) for '12, "as intended, as part of a strategy of extra investment in content including its acclaimed London 2012 Paralympics coverage and building its digital audience data operation," according to Sweney & Plunkett of the London GUARDIAN. The broadcaster said that its investment on original programming "reached a record high last year" of £434M ($660M), up 3% year on year, but "below the original target" of £455M ($692M). Total content spent was £608M ($925M) for the year. Channel 4's board said that given the success of the Paralympics, all of its 700-plus staff, from CEO to receptionists, "received a 2.5% bonus." Channel 4 CEO David Abraham, who received a 6% boost to his total remuneration to £744,000 ($1.1M) last year, said the broadcaster had decided to "prudently" run down some of its reserves to spend on the Paralympics and new technology such as its new digital channel, 4Seven. Abraham: "Having built up our cash reserves to beyond the required levels we now have a planned deficit while we reinvest the surplus in our future." Abraham "would not be drawn on the likely size of the deficit this year," beyond that it was "not our intention" to be larger than the £29M shortfall in '12. The broadcaster's total bill for gross salaries was £55M ($83M), with 716 full-time staff and 79 contractors, which means that the Paralympics payout was about £1.4M ($2.1M) in total (GUARDIAN, 5/14).

FLAT LINING: In London, Christopher Williams reported advertising and sponsorship revenues "were flat" at £844M ($1.2B). On demand revenues grew 50% to £36M ($54M), but "not enough to offset" a 1.7% decline in total revenues. Abraham said that future growth "would come from new advertising deals" that take advantage of the 6.3 million viewers who have now registered on Channel 4’s website (TELEGRAPH, 5/14). MEDIA WEEK's Maisie McCabe reported non-linear revenues grew 50% year on year to £36M, which Channel 4 "attributed to high yields and innovation in advertising formats, supported by its data initiatives." Channel 4’s sales house, which also sold advertising for UKTV and PBS in '12, "generated total sales in excess of" £1B ($1.5B) for the second year in a row (MEDIA WEEK, 5/14).
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