Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon has stated that the Channel 4 programme budget, cut substantially in 2020 due to the ad revenue drop caused by COVID, will rise “massively’ in 2021.

Mahon was speaking at the RTS Digital Convention 2020 in conversation with Tim Hincks, co-CEO of Expectation.

She said that it was not yet clear how much of the £150m that was taken out of the budget this year would return in 2021 “because we don’t really know what the advertising market will do, but it definitely goes up massively in 2021 compared to 2020.”

She said that the broadcaster had “got to get tariffs back to normal rates because we can’t, and neither can indies, survive with tariffs being low.”

Mahon said that although Channel 4’s budget cuts during lockdown had “taught us some things about how you can make cheaper programmes and how you can make faster decisions” it wasn’t a long term strategy. “I don’t think you can compete in a Netflix world or Amazon Prime or Disney+ world by making everything cheaper, that’s not realistic, that’s not the quality viewers demand.”

Mahon said that increasingly “audiences want familiar big shows and they want them more” but that equally “people want new stuff all the time. The question is how many bets on new stuff can you lay out and do you need to be clearer and have fewer of them or do you have lots of them that are little. That’s a constant question of how big new things have to be.”

Jon Creamer

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