BT emerges as suitor to merge with cash-strapped Channel 4

BT is set to emerge as a likely candidate to merge with Channel 4 after the broadcaster's chairman said he would welcome talks that could offer a solution to its £150m funding shortfall.

Luke Johnson, Channel 4's chairman, is reported to have said that a tie-up with BT's television subsidiary BT Vision is "worth exploring", after holding preliminary talks with the group.

A BT spokesman said the company "never comments on rumours and speculation", but it is understood that initial soundings were taken last year, but then shelved after Channel 4 expressed a preference to merge with the BBC's commercial division, BBC Worldwide.

The need for a partner for Channel 4 is becoming more apparent, with the Government keen for a solution to what will become a £150m annual funding shortfall by 2012. A deal with BT would have other obvious benefits for Channel 4, not least the ability to transmit its programmes on BT lines into homes and offices.

BT's pay-TV service could also gain from having access to the broadcaster's top programmes such as Time Team and Hollyoaks.

The Government has stressed a new arrangement for Channel 4 is needed, and there have been a host of suitors. ITV has lobbied minister about creating a single terrestrial commercial broadcaster, which would incorporate ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

The plan was submitted to Lord Carter, the communications minister, last month, with ITV describing its proposal as "blue-sky thinking" to produce "radical solutions to the problem of who provides sustainable competition to the BBC".

The Government has indicated it is willing to listen to any plan to secure the long term future of state-owned Channel 4.

The broadcaster is expected to suffer increasing funding problems in the years ahead, and there are therefore concerns for its £600m a year spending on programmes – especially as advertising revenue is expected to continue to fall with a greater proportion allotted by companies to online marketing.

The Government has long been thought to favour a deal with BBC Worldwide.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Professional Sales Trainee - B2B

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: First things first - for the av...

Recruitment Genius: Account Executive - Graduate / Entry Level

£22000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital advertising infras...

Guru Careers: PR Account Director / SAM

£50 - 60k (DOE) + Benefits & Bonus: Guru Careers: A PR Account Director / SAM ...

Guru Careers: Research Analyst / Business Insight Analyst

£32 - £37K + extensive benefits: Guru Careers: Research Analyst / Business Ins...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific