The UK government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is launching a consultation to seek views on how public service broadcaster Channel 4 can most effectively contribute to regional economic growth, stimulate regional creative industries, and better serve regional audiences to deliver a stronger economy and a fairer society.
Channel 4 Corporation (C4C) is a statutory body, owned by the public, which is responsible for a portfolio of channels (including More 4, E4, 4 Seven, All 4 and Film4) and Channel 4. According to the DCMS, it is an established bold and innovative part of the broadcasting sector, with its public service remit and support for the independent production sector across the UK being of vital importance.
Specifically, the DCMS is consulting on:
To what extent should Channel 4 be based outside London, potentially including moving its headquarters; Whether more programmes shown on Channel 4 should be made outside London; and Whether Channel 4 should be able to make larger investments in production companies to support the development of emerging talent, including that from the regions, and help bolster Channel 4’s future financial position.
Following the consultation, the government will consider the evidence and determine the best way forward, including through discussion with Channel 4, to ensure that Channel 4 maximises its delivery of public value for the country as a whole.
The DCMS is seeking the broadest range of views and evidence to inform its assessment, including from the broadcasting and production sectors, from regional authorities, and from audiences around the UK.
Introducing the consultation, Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said that Channel 4 had changed considerably over the years, partly of its own accord and partly as a result of interventions of the government, but that its fundamental status had not changed. It remains a commercially-funded public service broadcaster which is owned by the country.
“I want to protect and enhance this precious public asset, to ensure its sustainability in the long term and maintain the contribution it makes to society. I also want to make sure it serves the whole country,” she stated.
“It is for these reasons that I am launching this consultation. This Government is committed to spreading jobs and prosperity throughout the UK, and we want Channel 4 to be part of that. We would like to see Channel 4 have a major presence outside London, stimulating creative and economic activity right across the country,” she said
“In doing so it can play a leading role in a public service broadcasting system that reflects our United Kingdom. Public assets, such as Channel 4, should deliver for the public in every possible way. This is key to building an economy that works for everyone, not just a privileged few. Channel 4 rightly prides itself in being different, in providing alternative views and new perspectives. This evolution will help to underpin that purpose and make Channel 4 even more distinctive – and give audiences the length and breadth of the UK content that speaks to them and where they come from,” she suggested.