Channel 4 may have to move North following government consultation

Simon Austin's picture
by Simon Austin

The government has ruled out privatising Channel 4, but the broadcaster could still be forced to move out of London.

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley will outline the government plans for a consultation about Channel 4 when she speaks in Salford later today.

The consultation will look at whether Channel 4 should relocate some or all of its staff from London. This could include the possibility of moving its headquarters, with Birmingham regarded as the most probable location.

Salford could also be in the mix though. Greater Manchester leaders have lobbied for Channel 4 to move to MediaCityUK, according to the Manchester Evening News.

Bradley will say: "I am unsympathetic towards those who recoil in horror at the very idea of media jobs being based outside the capital. Or for those who insist that people with ideas in the West Midlands, west country or west Wales must travel to Westminster to get their programmes made."

Bradley will confirm that Channel 4 will remain publicly owned though, bringing an end to the 18-month review by the government.

Channel 4 is "precious public asset", she is due to say, but it must "provide a platform for unheard voices and untold stories from right across the United Kingdom".

The consultation will also review the amount of money spent on productions outside the M25. This is currently set at 35% of original British commissions, but could increase to 50%.

A Channel 4 spokesperson said: “We welcome the Government’s decision not to privatise Channel 4.

“Channel 4 plays a major role in driving innovation, investment and jobs right across the UK - we have invested £1.5 billion in Nations and Regions commissioning over the last 10 years, and consistently outperform our Ofcom requirements.

“We are keen to do more and have shared with government wide-ranging proposals to support jobs and investment across the country. We look forward to continuing those discussions as part of this new review, and exploring how the government can support our ambitions to do more.

“The most important factor in supporting the Nations and Regions is where we spend our money rather than where Channel 4 is headquartered. A substantial relocation would be highly damaging to Channel 4’s business model and diminish our investment in the creative industries around the UK and our overall contribution to the UK economy.”