December 11, 2008

How many TV execs does it take to waste £945m?

Reading Andy Duncan’s (the boss of Channel 4) reaction to the BBC’s post-Media Apocalypse plans, you kind of have to respect the guy’s nerve.

[Their proposals are] overdue recognition from the BBC that it should be using its privileged position to help support the broader public service ecology.

Andy Duncan, you see, seems to view Channel 4 not as a commercial broadcaster, owned by the nation, but as a charity.

How the company makes £945m in revenue each year and only manages to generate a profit of £1.6m* is beyond me. Is it being run like a 1960s cannabis-filled temple of peace and love, or a business?

Its public service obligations aren’t an enormous burden – a few hours on just one of its four channels. So how are they managing to drag the whole company down to the point where it’s only just breaking even?

One possible solution being bandied around is to give them BBC Worldwide. It, in stark contrast to C4, makes £916m in revenue each year, of which £112m is profit.

Based on Channel 4’s financial performance to date, it would be a bit like letting Zippy, George and Bungle take over Google.

*Yes, I know they’re a publicly-owned company and so don’t make profit in the traditional sense, but the figure suggests they’re only just about scraping by.


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