UK Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has suggested there would be regional economic benefits from relocating commercial Public Service Broadcaster Channel 4 and from increasing commissioning.
Delivering a keynote address at the Royal Television Society’s (RTS) annual event in Cambridge, Bradley told delegates that she felt that TV production was excessively concentrated in London, noting that production industry trade body Pact had found that of the £2 billion (€2.27bn) budget for UK productions in 2016, just 32 per cent was spent outside London, and only 35 per cent of jobs.
“In March, I announced that the Government wanted Channel 4 to increase its regional impact,” remarked Bradley. “Relocation may not mean the whole business, but I am clear that Channel 4 must have a major presence outside London, and potentially increase commissioning. In doing so Channel 4 can play a leading role, as a publicly-owned public service broadcaster, in a system that reflects and provides for the country as a whole,” she suggested.
“We ran a public consultation on the best way forward. Today we will publish the results from that consultation, and I can announce that the overwhelming majority of respondents stated that Channel 4’s regional impact would be enhanced if more of its people and activities were located outside London,” she advised, adding that a significant majority further agreed that increasing Channel 4’s commissioning quotas would be an appropriate and effective way to enhance Channel 4’s impact in the nations and regions.
“We also commissioned independent economic analysis. This is due to report to us next week, but emerging findings suggest there would be regional economic benefits from relocating Channel 4 and from increasing commissioning,” she revealed.
She accepted that Channel 4 works very hard to give a voice to as wide a range of people as possible, suggesting that it was this very sensibility that makes it well placed to relocate outside London – along with its unique status as a public service broadcaster paid for by commercial activity but owned by the taxpayer.
“I want to be very clear regarding Channel 4 – it is a great broadcaster with many fantastic programmes. However, as a public asset I expect it to do even more to support the whole country. Decisions about its programming should not all be made in the bubble of Westminster. And people seeking to work in the media should not feel that they have to move to London,” she declared, adding that she would continue to work really closely with Channel 4, with he preference being to agree a way forward in concert with Channel 4