Advanced Television

Ofcom consults on new Channel 4 licence

December 6, 2023

By Colin Mann

UK broadcast regulator Ofcom is consulting on proposals for a new licence for Channel 4, ahead of its current licence expiring on December 31st 2024.

Ofcom audience research shows that Channel 4 remains a valued part of the UK’s broadcasting landscape. It also continues to deliver content promoting new and diverse voices and perspectives and plays a crucial role in supporting the creative economy outside London.

Since Channel 4’s licence was last renewed in 2014, the broadcasting sector has changed significantly, notes Ofcom. Viewing of traditional broadcast TV has seen a long-term and substantial decline, while younger people – who traditionally form Channel 4’s core audience – are turning to online video streaming services. Channel 4 is facing financial challenges, a declining audience share and weakening brand recognition amongst younger audiences.

In light of this, Channel 4 has requested to change some of its existing licence obligations to support its digital growth and transformation. Ofcom’s proposed new 10-year licence for Channel 4 is designed to support its digital content and distribution strategy, while safeguarding its investment in distinctive UK content and protecting interests of viewers who rely on traditional, scheduled broadcast television.

Ofcom’s proposals include maintaining Channel 4’s core evening and weekend news programming, as well as its regional production requirements. Ofcom also proposing to reduce some of Channel 4’s obligations to give it flexibility to increase investment in its online content and services.

Subject to responses to the consultation, which must be submitted by February 14th 2024, Ofcom expects to publish its final decision on Channel 4’s new licence in the spring.

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