Channel 4 CEO Andy Duncan is lobbying regulators for an entire digital terrestrial television multiplex. Channel 4 was gifted half a multiplex, which it shares with ITV, in the late 1990s, and leases capacity for some of its digital entertainment channels.
Duncan told The Sunday Telegraph that Channel 4 required additional capacity in order to help plug a potential £100m funding shortfall as Britain heads towards the completion of digital switchover in 2012. "The digital channels are there to earn money to deliver back into the core channel," explained Duncan. "We will be lobbying for indirect subsidy, such as tax breaks.
"[But] the most valuable help would be the gift of more digital spectrum. Channel 4 could be given a whole multiplex. We have ideas for one or two more channels, some of which we are developing with partners."
The call for additional spectrum comes as Ofcom considers responses to its digital dividend review. Ofcom intends to auction the entire spectrum liberated by switchover, but an alliance of public service broadcasters—including Channel 4—backed by retailers and consumer electronics manufacturers wants capacity set aside for high-definition broadcasts on Freeview.
Earlier this month Channel 4 revealed its cash surplus fell by 70% to £14.5m as it invested in new programming and on-demand distribution. Last month a report for Ofcom produced by consulting group LEK warned that Channel 4 was likely to be loss making after 2010.
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