Channel 4 is moving forward with plans to launch its new on-demand service for foreign-language drama, Walter Presents, outside of the UK.
Speaking at Enders Analysis’ Media & Telecoms conference in London this week, Channel 4 CEO David Abraham said the broadcaster is “now in talks with potential international partners” about a wider rollout of the service.
He also revealed that the service had already attracted 5.5m views since its January 3 launch – having reached the 1 million mark in its first two weeks.
Walter Presents offers a library of around 700 hours of curated, foreign-language drama from around the world. Channel 4 first announced the UK service last September, saying at the time that it eventually planned to launch it in “a number of other TV markets”.
At the conference this week, Abraham also used his speech to defended Channel 4’s existing public service model, claiming that privatisation “is a solution in search of a problem.”
“Despite the concerns the government may have about our future, our model continues to work well because we keep innovating,” he said, claiming that Channel 4 is “not a burden” and “delivers public value at no direct cost to the taxpayer”.
“I simply do not believe that the likes of C4 News, our Paralympics coverage, or our commitment to backing distinctive British films, would survive in anywhere near their current form if Channel 4 was privatised,” said Abraham.
He also criticised former Channel 4 bosses Michael Grade and Luke Johnson for recently speaking in favour of selling the broadcaster, telling them to: “cheer up, stop worrying so much, and in Michael’s case, go and enjoy your Channel 4 pension. The model is working.”
The comments come after the UK government said in November that it is looking at privatising public broadcaster Channel 4, despite previously denying the option was on the table.
Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed the channel, which is currently publicly-owned and advertiser-funded, could be sold or part-privatised to secure Channel 4 “a strong and secure future”. He added: “I think it is right to look at all of the options, including to see whether private investment into Channel 4 could help safeguard it for the future.”
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