4iP goes in Channel 4 Online rejig
By Julian Clover
Published: October 7, 2010 10.16 Europe/London

Channel 4 is to integrate its digital investment arm 4iP into a single department that will oversee all of the broadcaster’s multiplatform propositions and services.

4iP is best known for AudioBoo, the iPhone app that allows users to record short audio files for posting to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Some £14 million has already been invested in projects and a further £6 million remains in the fund.

Channel 4’s corporate development team under Stuart Cosgrove, Channel 4 director of creative diversity, will manage ongoing investments. “As an organisation we are now much clearer about how to use digital media to deliver our unique creative remit with even greater impact. 4iP’s integration across Channel 4 means that digital innovation and regional talent development will be placed at the heart of the business,” said Cosgrove.

The recently appointed head of online Richard Davidson-Houston will head the new Channel 4 Online. The division has been given a clear editorial objective to “increase overall consumption of television programming; generate incremental revenue; or increase public value for Channel 4,” suggesting that previous project may have wandered off course.

Commenting on his new structure, Davidson-Houston said: “Channel 4 is acknowledged as the creator of some of the most talked about online work of the last few years. A single Online department at the heart of the channel’s Content & Commissioning Division will be easier for external companies to work with, helping attract the best, most innovative ideas which in turn will enable us to create competitive and relevant experiences for our audiences.”

Part of Cosgrove’s ambition is to deliver more digital content from the regions, a move welcomed by Screen WM, the West Midlands-based organisation that has supported 4iP through its Digital Media Fund.

Suzie Norton, CEO, Screen WM said: “4iP has been a huge success in its pilot phase, which now provides Screen WM with fantastic building blocks onto which we can continue to grow the West Midlands’ digital companies in this new era.”

One of the highlights of Screen WM’s investment was the multi-award winning Embarrassing Bodies that spearheaded the idea of 360 degree commissioning through online support for the linear television programme.