Fans of US imports such as Desperate Housewives could see their favourite shows disappear from C4.

The broadcaster’s annual report showed that profit has fallen by 70 per cent to £14.5 million last year, which was blamed partly on falling advertising revenue.

And director of programmes Kevin Lygo said US imports would be the first area to feel the pinch: “My preference will be to cut acquired programming. That would certainly be the first place we cut before we cut domestic commissioning.”

The channel has scored ratings hits over recent years with the likes of Lost and Desperate Housewives, although the former show has now moved to Sky One.

And C4 bosses warned that quality programming may be cut in response to increasing financial pressures, calling for more Government money.

The channel was the only terrestrial broadcaster to increase its audience share in 2006.

C4 schedules saw a big rise in quiz shows and gameshows, which accounted for 393 hours of programming – compared to 250 hours in 2005 – thanks in part to the success of Noel Edmonds’ Deal Or No Deal.

Annual spending on entertainment shows such as Big Brother rose from £99 million in 2005 to £125 million in 2006.