Page last updated at 02:17 GMT, Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Channel 4's future in spotlight

Channel 4's logo
Channel 4 is facing a lack of cash due to falling advertising revenues

Media regulator Ofcom is due to unveil recommendations aimed at protecting the future of Channel 4 and public service broadcasting as a whole.

Channel 4 is facing a shortage of money as advertising revenue falls and viewers switch to digital TV.

Possible solutions considered by Ofcom and the government include "top-slicing" money from the licence fee.

Ofcom is also expected to announce proposals to protect regional television news services.

Channel 4 says it will need up to 150m a year in subsidy to provide public service programmes, such as peak-time news and current affairs.

One much-publicised idea is to "top-slice" the licence fee, forcing the BBC to share it.

Another includes giving Channel 4 a stake in BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm.

ITV also wants to cut its own public service programming, including religious and regional news programmes, to help protect its future.

But it has said it is close to a deal on sharing facilities with the BBC for regional news production, which it says will safeguard local programmes until 2016.

Ofcom said its report would make a series of recommendations to the government to make sure public service broadcasting "continues to thrive in the decade ahead".

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