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EC will ban help for C4

October 6, 2008

The European commission is likely to ban the government’s proposed £14m (E17.9m) aid to Channel 4 to meet the costs of the digital switchover and fulfill its public service broadcasting (PSB) commitments.Neelie Kroes, European competition commissioner has told the foreign secretary, David Miliband that Channel 4 had enough reserves and revenues to pay for its digital expansion. Her comments have been seized on by several international broadcasters as indicating that separate plans being considered by the media regulator, Ofcom, to allow C4 access to some public funding could also represent an unfair subsidy.The commission is investigating the £14m aid package to C4 after a complaint in 2006 by a rival UK-based broadcaster. Officials said the inquiry was still under way but no complaint had been received so far about the Ofcom proposal. C4 has argued that its ability to deliver its PSB remit is jeopardised by a looming funding gap, and has announced cuts of £100m by the end of next year.

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