Channel 4 reports record-breaking year amid push to privatise

Channel 4 reports record-breaking year

Channel 4 has reported its strongest ever financial performance in 2021 as revenues topped £1bn for the first time.

The public-service broadcaster recorded a pre-tax surplus of £101m (the previous record figure was £74m). C4 now has net cash reserve of £272m and net assets of £556m.

The company’s £1.2bn in 2021 revenue amounted to a 25% year-on-year growth, and an impressive 18% growth on 2019’s pre-pandemic revenues.

It also invested a record level of investment in British content last year with C4 spending £671m—the third-highest content spend ever by the channel and an increase of 29% from 2020. It is currently on pace to spend an even greater amount — £700m — on content this year.

The company’s Future4 strategy “delivered”, it said, with digital advertising revenue growing 40% year-over-year to account for nearly one-fifth (19%) of total revenue.

All 4, Channel 4’s streaming service, also delivered record-breaking performance, netting 1.5 billion total views and putting it on track to deliver two billion views by 2025.

On the figures, C4 CEO Alex Mahon said: “These results demonstrate that Channel 4’s business model delivers dynamic growth, revenue diversification, and long-term sustainability.”

C4 hits back at Dorries ‘actor’ claims

The release of the public-service broadcasters’s annual report has been subject to controversy. Earlier this week, Mahon told a select committee that civil servants had expressed concern that the Government had attempted to adjust the language in the report to fit its aims of privatisation.

Responding to questions from senior MPs on Tuesday, Mahon said “[T]he DCMS made some comments that they would have preferred to see in the report, particularly about our future financial sustainability,” adding that the questions “were about whether our wording was in line with government policy.”

Such claims are more extraordinary given the health of C4’s now-released financial figures. Under Boris Johnson, the Government has pushed ahead with plans to privatise the broadcaster against opposition from Channel 4. Now that Johnson has resigned and is set to depart as Prime Minister, it is unclear if such plans will be reconsidered under his successor.

Mahon had also stated that culture secretary Nadine Dorries’ allegations that C4 reality show Tower Block of Commons—which she appeared on in 2010—used paid actors were unfounded.

After having asked Love Productions, who produced the programme, to conduct a “thorough investigation” into the concerns raised, neither Love Productions’ probe nor Channel 4’s internal inquiries revealed any evidence to support the allegations made about the programme, the company said.

Channel 4 also said it was “well placed” to deliver a record £15m investment in training and development across the UK over the next three years, and that it had made strides on its DE&I goals, with 18% of its staff and 17% of its leadership now “ethnically diverse”, putting the company on track to reach its 20% diversity target in 2022.

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