Channel 4 director of television Kevin Lygo has been handed an extra£20m to plough into drama, comedy and current affairs.
Channel 4 director of television Kevin Lygo has been handed an extra £20m to plough into drama, comedy and current affairs.

The cash injection, signed off by the C4 board, takes the channel's projected programming budget for 2004 to a record £469m - £20m more than the original forecast for the year and £12m more than last year's budget of £457m.

Lygo will use the money to shift comedy and drama shows pencilled in for the 2005 schedule into this year's autumn line-up, bolstering the broadcaster's public service performance for 2004 in the process.

Programmes to be brought forward include the fourth series of Tiger Aspect's hit drama Teachers , Company Pictures' feature-length special on the lives of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, entitled Not Only But Always , and the second outing of sitcom Peep Show.

Lygo will make room in the autumn schedule by cutting some repeat shows, acquisitions and factual programming. The money freed up from pulling the shows will be used to fund new drama and comedy next year.

Lygo told Broadcast : 'This is the reality of a commercially successful year. By pulling Teachers forward, it frees up the money that was allocated to it and means that we can do another drama series for next year.'

He added: 'When people criticise C4 for becoming too populist, we're now in a position to say ?This is why it's good to be popular.' None of the shows affected by the £20m are commercial commissions - you never make any money out of drama. It's all proper public service stuff.'

C4 will also use part of the £20m to improve its coverage of November's US elections. Shows include documentaries presented by Jon Snow and Peter Oborne looking at the country's democratic model and its unique electoral system. A special edition of international current affairs strand Unreported World focusing on US foreign policy is also on the slate.

A C4 spokesman said the extra funding stems from improved advertising revenue over the year. For the year so far (period ending 15 August), C4's shares of 16 to 34-year-olds and ABC1s are up 10% and 7% year on year respectively.

The channel has also boosted its overall share. For the year to date it attracted 10.21% of the overall TV audience (including S4C), an improvement on its 9.6% share in 2003. The channel is ahead of BBC2 for the first time in a decade.