Channel 4 invests £10m to find the next big TV shows

LONDON – Channel 4 is setting up a new £10m ideas fund to find the next big innovative television programmes that could help develop the next 'Big Brother', a major moneyspinner for the station.

Speaking at a Royal Television Society dinner last night, Channel 4 chief executive Andy Duncan revealed the £10m would go towards "a few really big ideas" as opposed to a number of smaller less significant shows.

He also hinted that the programmes would ideally have multichannel and multiplatform elements and could come from any genre.

The any genre means that it could well include the next 'Big Brother', which although much criticised is a big money earner for Channel 4, allowing it to run the programme on its main channel, its digital channel E4 and digitally via online and mobile.

Duncan explained the reason for the ideas fund in investment: "We need the constant draught of new ideas to keep us alive and sometimes the normal commissioning process doesn't let enough fresh air in."

The news comes as Channel 4 reveals it is to plough an extra £20m into E4 to spend on original commissions and US acquisitions like the hugely popular 'Desperate Housewives' and 'The OC'.

Channel 4 will increase the channel's 2005 programme budget by 50% to £60m.

It is expected that E4 will become a free-to-air-service later in the year and the financial boost will give the channel greater scope for expansion.

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