Channel 4’s chief executive has quashed rumours of her departure amid an uphill struggle for the broadcaster, as it looks to its credit facility for help.
Alex Mahon, who has been at the helm of the business since 2017, has rejected speculation that she is stepping down from Channel 4, saying that “most of it is untrue”.
The state-funded broadcaster has had a “really difficult year”, in which a predicted fourth-quarter recovery has failed to materialise, she went on to say in a committee hearing in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
It has grappled with the steepest advertising downturn in 15 years, coupled with a shift in consumer behaviour favouring streaming and on-demand services.
But, in response to market shocks, Channel 4 has a £75m credit facility.
“We are in market shock territory,” said Mahon, “this level of advertising fall has only been deeper in the 2008 recession so I imagine through next year we will look at how to use that debt facility.”
The first-ever female chief of Channel 4 said another key change for the business is adapting towards streaming and on-demand services which viewers are increasingly switching to.
She said Channel 4 is likely to unveil its strategy for the next five to 10 years in early 2024.
The public broadcaster expects the next two years to be loss-making due to a 14 per cent decline in traditional TV ad revenues.
It recorded a £20m pre-tax “surplus” in 2022, which dropped to £3m after a one-off retention payment linked to privatisation.
To deal with the advertising downturn, Channel 4 is reducing commissioning, scaling down from its record-high £713m spent on original content in 2022.
Mahon also dismissed suggestions of potential state subsidies to secure Channel 4’s future, after the government had previously considered privatisation.