C4 to boost current affairs output

Channel 4 is more than doubling the run of its flagship current affairs strand Dispatches from 12 to 28 programmes next year.

The broadcaster said the expansion represents a seven-figure investment and it is committed to running more than two hours a week of current affairs in peak time in 2005.

Twenty one-hour length Dispatches a year will be broadcast in theMonday 8pm slot. The remaining eight films will be undercover specials and will be shown in a midweek slot at 9pm.

The two hours of peak time current affairs in 2005 will include the return of 30 Minutes and a slightly extended run for the international current affairs strand, UnreportedWorld.

Excluding specials, Channel 4 said it will increase its core current affairs hours in peak time by a minimum of 25 per cent in 2005.

Kevin Lygo, Channel 4 director of television, said: “These extra hours will re-establish Dispatches as a regular weekly current affairs strand at the heart of the Channel 4 schedule. The success of some of our investigations this year, including our exposé of the postal service in Third Class Post, has shown that there’s an appetite among the Channel 4 audience for hardhitting current affairs.”

Dorothy Byrne, Channel 4’s head of news and current affairs, added: ” Dispatches has not softened its approach, but has managed to maintain its reputation for original and challenging journalismin the heart of peak. The extra hours will give us even more room for ground-breaking investigations.”

By Jon Slattery

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