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Screen Scotland joins call for Channel 4 production quotas to reflect entire UK

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Screen agencies in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have joined forces to push for Ofcom to increase Channel 4’s “outside of London” quota.

Ofcom is recommending a new 65% London quota and a renewal of a 91% Channel 4 production quota for England across the next decade.  

The screen agencies want Channel 4’s outside of London commissioning spend to rise to 50% and its out of England quote to be 16%+. They also want to introduce individual quotas for each UK nation. This would reflect those accepted by the BBC since 2009.  

“A broadcaster that is owned by the UK public should deliver its remit across the UK. When trying to avoid privatisation, Channel 4 argued that it had to “get out of the M25”. With that battle won, the Channel has changed its tune, now saying that it must commission and make 65% of its programmes in London, 91% in England. Scotland’s independent producers have a long history of delivering C4’s hits- Location, Location, Location was devised and developed in Glasgow and has been made in Scotland from its first series,” said David Smith, Director of Screen Scotland.

“If C4 pivots back towards London-to-London commissioning, thousands of freelancer jobs across the UK will be lost. Screen Scotland urges Ofcom to look again at the evidence it has gathered and introduce production quotas for C4 that match those accepted by the BBC in 2009, 16%+ outside of England, with a specific quota for production from Scotland of at least 8%.”      

According to the Ofcom consultation, Channel 4 has “found it challenging to commission outside of the M25 and to meet the current 9% “Out of England” quota,”

This is disputed by the nations, which point to “the economic success of the BBC’s 16%+ quota across Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.”

“Here in Wales we are proud of our thriving screen sector and are working hard to develop and grow it further. These Ofcom proposals around quotas for Channel 4 filming in London and England go against much of what we are working to achieve and seem to be a huge backward step that would only serve to refocus a significant part of the UK’s TV production back to London and the South East of England,” added Gerwyn Evans, Deputy Director at Creative Wales.

“Creative Wales is proud that Channel 4 shows such as the award winning The Great House Giveaway’ have been made in Wales, and that recurrent series have enabled production company, Chwarel to grow sustainably, creating local jobs and economic benefits. Light in the Hall is another great example of Channel 4 making High End, quality TV here in Wales and we are keen to continue and build on our positive working relationship. We would urge everyone involved in these proposals to reconsider their position and take action to protect our screen industry, and the many jobs and opportunities it brings to Wales.”

A spokesperson for Channel 4 said:

“Channel 4 is fully committed to driving growth and investment in the Nations and Regions and has made demonstrable progress over recent years. Whilst we of course look to ensure that our commissioning spend benefits all three devolved nations, no commercial broadcaster, including Channel 4, has nominal or voluntary quotas for the individual nations.

“We are fully committed to the Nations and Regions – our 4 All The UK strategy has introduced regional hubs, creating more than 500 roles out of London with a commitment to reach 600 by 2025; we have voluntarily increased our Nations and Regions commissioning quota from 35% to 50%; we have worked with screen agencies across the UK to introduce bespoke commissioning development initiatives; we have invested millions in the Nations and Regions through our 4Skills programme delivering 57,000 training, learning and development opportunities in 2023. These interventions have seen Channel 4’s out of London commissioning spend steadily increase over the licence period to a record £228m in 2022.”

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