UK broadcaster Channel 4 has defended itself against legal proceeding from Senator Films over its closure of its stand alone film unit FilmFour, saying that it made a claim first against the German company.

Senator, which had an output deal with FilmFour, filed a lawsuit this week against Channel Four for damages over the closure of the film operation two years ago.

But Channel Four said on Tuesday (Mar 2) that FilmFour made a significant claim against Senator and its subsidiary Eurofilm last autumn.

"Their response is to claim against us," said a spokesperson. "FilmFour has made clear that it is prepared to mediate or to litigate the dispute. Eurofilm's press release of today is inaccurate and misleading but it is true that proceedings have now been issued by Senator and Eurofilm. FilmFour intends to protect its position. If Senator and Eurofilm continue their proceedings, FilmFour will vigorously defend them as well as pursuing its own claims."

Senator, which began legal proceedings in London, is claiming damages of around £6 million. Senator was to co-produce some 21 films with FilmFour but only a handful were completed.

In a press release sent out yesterday (Mar 2), Senator said that Channel Four "announced a major change of strategy without telling its long-term partner, it then failed to provide complete financial information or, indeed, make payments due under the deal to Eurofilm from world sales revenues that FilmFour had itself already received."

Senator CEO and chairman of the board Christopher Borgmann told that the company had tried to come to a resolution with FilmFour but that any decision or response from them was constantly delayed. "They seemed to be playing for time," he said.

Borgmann said that Senator has been preparing the legal action for some time against FilmFour.

He added: "After the announcement was made by FilmFour [that it was closing], we sought to have talks and thought we had come to partial solutions in some areas. FilmFour sees that differently and [those resolutions] are now being ignored."