Channel 4 launches E4+1 as losses fall at 4 Ventures

LONDON - The commercial arm of Channel 4 is to launch a delayed broadcast version of its youth entertainment channel E4 as losses at 4 Ventures arm fall by more than half.

The so called "time-shifted" version of Channel 4's digital entertainment channel E4 will launch on digital, satellite and cable platforms in July. The time-shifted E4+1 will carry an identical schedule to E4, but will begin broadcasting an hour later each day between 3pm and 5am.

Losses at 4 Ventures, which is behind E4, fell by 53% to £28m from £59m in 2001, as turnover increased by 20% to £126m from £105m last time.

The news will be much welcomed at Channel 4, which suffered a difficult year last year partly due to its digital operations. The group axed 200 jobs, closed its FilmFour production unit as chief executive Mark Thompson admitted the channel had been distracted by its digital ventures FilmFour and E4.

Despite the closure of FilmFour, the channel has said it remains committed to film production and has established a £10m annual film fund.

4 Ventures was launched in January 2001 to house all the commercial activities of Channel 4. The unit represents 15% of Channel 4's total turnover, which the group is hoping to increase, and is forecasting a better year next year with losses to more than halve.

Channel 4 said E4 doubled its share of 16- to 34-year-old viewing in multichannel homes to 2.8% and increased advertising and sponsorship revenue by 79%, helping reduce losses by 57% to £16m from £37.3m in 2001.

The FilmFour channels reduced losses by 40% to £7m from £11m, while the new 4 Rights division, including Channel 4 International, saw profits rise by 32% to £11m.

'Big Brother' helped 4 Interactive quadruple online and interactive TV revenues to £7m from £2m, and 4 Learning returned to operating profit from a loss of £1.8m last time.

Rob Woodward, managing director of 4 Ventures and commercial director of Channel 4, said: "4 Ventures supports Channel 4 in a number of ways: by broadening the reach of Channel 4's services, by strengthening the relationship with our core audience, by building the value of our key programme brands, by maximising the return on our programme investment and by exploiting the opportunities created through new technology."

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