Channel 4 unveils $40 million Global Format Fund, eyes digital growth

British pubcaster Channel 4 has established a Global Format Fund to invest in UK-created and produced content formats with global potential. The fund, outlined Thursday (Nov. 26) by Channel 4′s chief executive Alex Mahon (pictured) ...
November 26, 2020

British pubcaster Channel 4 has established a Global Format Fund to invest in UK-created and produced content formats with global potential.

The fund, outlined Thursday (Nov. 26) by Channel 4′s chief executive Alex Mahon (pictured) as part of the channel’s Future4 strategy, will initially be worth £30 million (US$40 million) over two years and will allow C4 to invest in non-scripted formats that are still in early development. The scheme will focus its efforts on non-scripted formats across the daytime, fact-ent, features and entertainment genres.

Through the Global Format Fund, C4 will support producers and their properties with guaranteed minimum runs and recommissioning triggers up front. The network will also provide leverage with its marketing experience to support producers with their international exploitation of the formats.

“Our ongoing focus is to continue to deliver our purpose and remit with meaningful scale and impact and I’m incredibly proud that we have already moved our viewing and our advertising revenues to digital at a faster rate than our competitors,” said Mahon in a statement. “We want to push this even further still, and our new Future4 strategy is about underpinning our commercial sustainability and ensuring that we have a clear plan to transform ourselves into a digital public service media organization that delivers across the whole of the UK for the future.”

The Future4 strategy will also place increased emphasis on doubling digital viewership numbers on the All 4 catch-up service over the next five years.

As a result, the broadcaster will place a greater emphasis on investing in content that can deliver long-term digital viewing growth, with a primary focus on innovative and noisy content in the reality, comedy entertainment, documentary, factual and scripted spaces.

Channel 4 will also ramp up its efforts across original short form via its recently launched Leeds-based digital content hub, 4Studio.

Added Ian Katz, Channel 4′s director of programs: “Over the coming year we’ll do our best to offer viewers an escape from the grimness of a COVID ravaged world with a schedule packed with fun and joy including sparkling new scripted comedy, fabulous new formats like Living Wild and more of viewers’ favorites from The Dog House and Snackmasters to uproariously funny entertainment like Taskmaster. I’m determined that however miserable the news is outside our living rooms, Channel 4 will be an oasis of joy in a joyless age.”

Elsewhere, the network has provided the greenlight to three unscripted series from Story Films and Hardcash Productions.

Channel 4 has ordered the tentatively titled three-part series The Sex Traffickers from Story Films.

Directed by BAFTA winning filmmaker Peter Beard, the series follows a top-secret British police unit as they use covert tactics to bring down an organized crime syndicate believed to be trafficking women into the UK from Brazil for sexual exploitation. Filmed over three years in the UK, Brazil and Spain, the docuseries provides access to teams from the South West Regional Organized Crime Unit and the Spanish Policia Nacional.

The series is executive produced by Beard and David Nath, who was responsible for the multi-award winning The Murder Detectives. Channel 4′s Alisa Pomeroy is commissioning editor.

Story Films has also been commissioned to produce an untitled 90-minute special that will examine the story of Max Clifford, a former British publicist jailed for indecent assaults against underage girls and young women.

The film will offer access to more than 30 hours of previously unheard audio recordings of the late Clifford alongside revealing testimony from his victims. It is directed by Toby Paton and produced by Dearbhaile Flynn. Sacha Mirzoeff is commissioning editor for Channel 4.

Finally, Hardcash Productions will produce the two-part series Rape: Behind the Headlines (working title), which examines the policing of rape throughout the UK.

Filmed, produced and directed by an all-female team and with exclusive access to Avon & Somerset Police, the series will examine the complex reasons why conviction rates for these crimes are so low.

Rape: Behind the Headlines is executive produced by Hardcash’s Joanna Potts and Lesley Bonner, alongside producers and directors Rachel Lob-Levyt and Imogen Wynell-Mayow. Channel 4′s commissioners include Louisa Compton, head of news and current affairs, and Fozia Khan, documentaries commissioning editor.

About The Author
Andrew Jeffrey joined Realscreen in 2021 as its news editor. Here, he helps to oversee assignment, reporting and editing for Realscreen's daily newsletter. Prior to his work covering documentary and non-fiction film and TV, he worked as a reporter and associate producer for CBC Edmonton, and as a reporter for The Star Calgary, where he covered daily news on beats such as local and provincial politics, health care and harm reduction, sports and education. His work has appeared in other Canadian news outlets such as TVO, the Edmonton Journal and Avenue Magazine.