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Future of Channel 4

Volume 624: debated on Wednesday 29 March 2017

Since late 2015 the Government have been working with Channel 4 to look at options to ensure a strong and successful future for the broadcaster.

Channel 4 broadcasts a range of great content and delivers significant public value in a variety of ways. The Government have therefore concluded that Channel 4’s public service model and remit would not be best served by privatisation.

However, the Government believe that there is scope for Channel 4 to do more to serve the nations and regions across the UK. Channel 4 already does much good work in the nations and regions but as a publicly owned asset the Government believe Channel 4 can, and should, go further to ensure it is doing all it can to support the UK as a whole. The growth in the broadcasting and production sector has not been evenly distributed, with more than two thirds of UK producers presently based in London and the south-east. This limits the spread of wealth and opportunity, including in terms of regional growth, and it also limits the representation of local tastes and interests in television.

The Government will therefore launch a 12-week consultation to seek views on how Channel 4 can most effectively increase its regional impact. Specifically, we want to look at:

To what extent should Channel 4 be based outside London;

Whether more programmes shown on Channel 4 should be made outside London;

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.

We are seeking the broadest range of views and evidence to inform our assessment, including from the broadcasting and production sectors, from regional authorities, and from audiences around the UK. Channel 4 is a key stakeholder in this process and the Government will work closely with it throughout this process, including in finalising the consultation document.

The consultation will be published in the coming weeks.