Edinburgh TV Festival: Outgoing Channel 4 chief creative officer Jay Hunt has warned programme budgets will be under pressure over the next year because of a ‘drop off’ in the ad market.

Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival today, said: “In terms of advertising, as anyone in commercial broadcasting will tell you, it is tougher now – there has been a drop off in the ad market.”

Hunt added: “There is going to be element of cutting cloth required, but that will be consistent across the commercial broadcasters.”

Her comments came on the same day that global advertising group WPP’s share price fell more than 11% after issuing its second sales warning of the year, blaming a big drop in marketing spend from some of the world’s largest consumer products companies.

Producers replying to Televisual’s Production 100 survey of the indie sector – published this week – also said one of their biggest challenges for the year ahead is falling programme budgets. Commercial broadcasters like ITV and Channel 4, they said, are cutting budgets both because of an economic slowdown as well as the impact of digital disruption.

Meanwhile, Hunt said she would stay in television after leaving Channel 4. “I am not going to be retraining as a dry cleaner. I will be staying in telly. I have been very fortunate to have a number of offers to stay on the buying side, and to move on to the selling side – and I am just trying to weigh up what is best. “

She also defended Channel 4’s reported £75m acquisition of Bake Off, which begins on Tuesday next week, against criticism from former C4 chief exec Michael Grade.  “I do find his interventions quite comedic. In the end, Bake Off is the epitomy of the cross subsidy model on Channel 4. There is a very clear articulation of it on the channel, I know some of you are watching The State. We couldn’t be more proud of it, it’s an exceptional series that Peter Kosminsky has delivered for us. But it is not a big ratings play. And something needs to pay for big drama plays like that, and Bake Off is part of that cross subsidy strategy.”

She added: “Michael Grade understands that only too well. During his time, they had a record high I think in terms of the number of acquired series in the schedule –and in old days, American shows did exactly the same job. They got the money through the door to pay for public service delivery.”

Tim Dams

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