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Channel 4’s content spend is set to hit a record level of more than £700m – but Ofcom is questioning its commitment to young audiences.

The broadcaster outlined a 4% rise in content spend this year as it continues to rebound from the £522m dip it experienced during the lockdowns of 2020.

Almost three-quarters of its spend went on original commissions last year, anticipating a £513m spend this year.

While commending C4’s commitment to the nations and regions, and its diversity of content, Ofcom said it was “disappointed” that its planned online content strand for teenagers has not yet launched.

“We expect to see a clearer strategy around its approach to investing in high-quality content for children and teenagers,” the regulator said.

It also highlighted C4’s extended subtitling, signing and audio description outages last year, which resulted in a breach of the broadcaster’s licence conditions.

As the broadcaster has already stated, revenues topped £1bn for the first time in the past financial year.

Newly-appointed C4 chair Ian Cheshire said the figures “underline C4’s long-term sustainability, even through uncertain times”.

With a new Prime Minister to be appointed in September, the prospect of a privatised C4 appears to be on pause and it remains to be seen whether it will remain the government’s choice in the autumn.

However, picking up a South Bank Show award this week for his C4 drama It’s a Sin, Russell T Davies warned:

“I know the government is wounded at the moment, but a wounded dog bites everyone. The rabies will spread, we're still in danger.

They have said they're selling Channel 4, and they have said they're stopping the [BBC] licence fee by 2027. We have to realise that the things they say they will do, they do. They're very good at that. We're full of doubt, they are not. They will do this, and it's wrong.”

The report has ruffled feathers in some quarters of the press for revealing that chief executive Alex Mahon's salary rose above £1m in 2021, with the maximum bonus of £476,000 taking it to £1.2m.

Meanwhile, C4 said that an independent review into Love Productions' 2010 series Tower Block of Commons had found "no evidence to support the allegations" of culture secretary Nadine Dorries, who claimed that contributors she met on the show were paid actors posing as tower block residents.

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