Government ditches C4 switchover help

The UK government has withdrawn controversial plans to award £14 million (E17.7m) to Channel 4 to help with the cost of digital switchover. In a written statement to parliament, culture secretary Andy Burnham said the plan had effectively been overtaken by events because forthcoming proposals on Channel 4’s future funding would be “more wide-ranging”.

“In the period since the notification was made, the debate on the future of public service broadcasting in the UK has moved on significantly.” Burnham said in the statement. “Furthermore, the structural challenges that traditional commercially-funded public service broadcasters face have been exacerbated by current cyclical conditions. The government has therefore brought forward its timeline for decisions and is now committed to take a more comprehensive view on the future institutional and financial framework of public service broadcasting, including the future of Channel 4, early in 2009.”

Channel 4 has been warning that it will require extra funds to plug a shortfall of £150m by the time of switchover in 2012.

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