Ofcom has concluded there is no immediate case for public funds to support Channel 4. But in a policy statement following the regulator's review of Channel 4's financing in the run up to digital switchover and beyond, Ofcom says it will "work with Channel 4 to monitor the impact of financial pressure".
Earlier this week the Government said it was considering some form of financial assistance for Channel 4, following a report for Ofcom by consultant LEK suggesting that the broadcaster is likely to be loss-making after 2010. After considering more than 120 responses to its Channel 4 funding review, Ofcom said while Channel 4's ability to deliver public service broadcasting in the future was "likely to come under sustained pressure from 2010 onwards, there is no apparent need for immediate intervention".
However, Ofcom says work to evaluate potential interventions in the long term needed to begin now. "Ofcom will assess a full range of options post 2010 as part of its next statutory review of public service broadcasting (PSB) which will begin in the autumn," said Ofcom.
"The Channel 4 board should significantly develop the ways in which it assesses the broadcaster's remit delivery and public service contribution ahead of this period of financial uncertainty. Ofcom will monitor Channel 4's financial performance and delivery against its PSB remit closely to observe the impact of emerging commercial pressures."
Ofcom CEO Ed Richards said: "We are concerned that Channel 4 may not be able to fulfill its public service purpose in future. The next phase of our work will be to ask what Channel 4's purpose should be in the longer term, and what the best way is to achieve it.
"Ahead of this we need to significantly improve our ability to monitor and to assess its remit and ensure it is delivered effectively across a full range of programmes."
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