Channel 4 confirms Big Brother will be axed

LONDON - Big Brother will disappear from Channel 4 after next summer after the broadcaster confirmed next year's series of Celebrity Big Brother and Big Brother would be the last to air on the network.

The housemates from Big Brother 10
The housemates from Big Brother 10

As part of a wide-ranging shake-up of its programming, Channel 4 has opted not to renew its rights deal for Big Brother with Endemol when its contract ends in 2010.

Channel 4 said the decision will free up to 200 first-run hours in peak time across Channel 4 and E4 from 2011, as well as millions of pounds for original commissions.

Kevin Lygo, director of television and content at Channel 4, said the decision not to recommission Big Brother "had been dictated more by creative considerations than commercial ones".

He said: "Big Brother is still profitable for Channel 4 despite its reduced popularity and there could have been the option to renew it on more favourable terms. That's what a purely commercial broadcaster would have done, but Channel 4 has a public remit to champion new forms of creativity. That remit to push the boundaries has been an essential part of the weird chemistry behind Big Brother's success, but it's now what is telling us that the programme has reached a natural end point on Channel 4 and it's time to move on."

He added that cancelling Big Brother "does not solve Channel 4's funding issues; this year we've nearly £125m less to spend on programmes than we did a couple of years ago and budgets for next year may have to be reduced further".

But he said that assuming ad revenues stop deteriorating it should now have greater flexibility in its programming budget.

Channel 4 said it was not looking for a like-for-like replacement for Big Brother but "for lots of new ways to refresh the schedule".

It said it was hoping to commission "some entertainment-led stunts and events to maintain a sense of fun about its summer schedule" as well as more comedy.

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