Channel 4 has issued a challenge to independent producers, inviting them to propose ideas that are deemed “too daring for any other broadcaster or streaming service to greenlight” with the launch of its 2023 Contestable Fund.

This fund provides independent production companies with the chance to present innovative, genre-defying concepts to Channel 4 commissioners. The aim is to select the most promising ideas for production in the upcoming year, with the intention of broadcasting them in 2025.

Initially introduced in 2020, Channel 4 employs this initiative to seek potentially groundbreaking formats annually, with financial backing provided by GroupM Motion Entertainment.

Ian Katz, Chief Content Officer, said: “The Contestable Fund was created to encourage indies to think big and pitch the kind of ideas that might not fit into narrow genre briefs and has attracted some of the most inventive and exciting pitches we have seen. We’re looking for audacious, audience-driving shows that also underscore Channel 4’s mission to create genuine change through entertainment. The successful commissions might take time to develop, but we hope they will add to our roster of programmes that go into production next year for tx in 2025.”

Kiran Nataraja, Director of Content Strategy and Planning, said: “We love the Contestable Fund as it allows us to create ambitious, buzzy and channel-defining shows with our indie partners. We’re seeking distinctive ideas that may be cross-genre, with scale and the potential to return, and give us fresh and exciting content to attract broad audiences on both streaming and linear.”

Channel 4 is in search of ideas that have the potential to generate buzz, secure a regular slot in linear schedules, and, crucially, be a significant draw on Channel 4’s streaming platform. It is probable that the proposed ideas will transcend traditional genres, representing the realm where genuinely innovative approaches take shape. They may be centred around talent, or alternatively, have no talent involved, and can be either live or pre-recorded.

The deadline for initial submissions to the Contestable Fund is set for the 2nd of February 2024. Ideas should be presented to Channel 4’s commissioning editors or heads of departments in the first instance.

The process will be overseen by Channel Executive, Art Sejdiu, and final decisions will be reached during the Spring commissioning rounds, with input from Ian Katz, Chief Content Officer, and Kiran Nataraja, Director of Content Strategy and Planning.

As detailed in recent briefings, Channel 4 is also on the lookout for shows spanning all unscripted genres, slated for production in 2024 and airing in 2025. Additionally, there are opportunities available for shows with quicker turnaround times, scheduled to air in 2024.

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