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Channel 4 chief content officer Ian Katz has pledged to support freelancers as the broadcaster pauses most commissioning this summer, promising that indies will still be encouraged to work up “big ideas for 2024 and beyond”.

In a letter to indies, Katz said C4 is promoting “a package of measure to help freelancers – the lifeblood of our industry – through this period”. He said this includes training opportunities through C4 training arm 4Skills and a new mentoring programme.

“We will also work together with our fellow broadcasters to do what we can to support freelancers and keep them in the industry,” Katz wrote.

He acknowledged that C4 will commission “relatively little” outside of current affairs and digital this summer,

Katz pledged that things will pick up in the autumn, when C4 will host a series of indie briefings, where it will spell out its wishes across all genres for 2024 and beyond.

Before that, he said, “we will be using this time to continue to develop your most distinctive and ambitious ideas. As ever we’ll have development funding available and I am encouraging our commissioning team to spend this time collaborating more closely with you on the next generation of big ideas for 2024 and beyond.”

C4’s pause on commissioning has been prompted by a challenging commercial market, which Katz stressed is a “cyclical” issue.

In looking at C4’s cashflow, he said, the objective has been to “preserve planned production”.

He added: “Regrettably, we’ve had to rest or not proceed with a small number of shows before they were financially greenlit.”

It recently emerged that MultiStory Media’s planned revival of former Sky Living format Four Weddings was scrapped several weeks into pre-production. C4 has also rested Kirstie’s Home-Made Christmas, called time on Extreme Medics and cut the latest order for The Last Leg from nine episodes to seven.

Katz also revealed that C4 has looked at cashflow and producer finance, as well as “rephasing” the production and transmission of some shows.

The broadcaster has moved to payment-on-delivery for some titles, a switch from its traditonal model of phasing payment across key stages of production up to delivery.

Katz concluded on a note of optimism: “Normal service will resume soon.”

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