One of the top stories in the industry, which has been gently simmering away, but at the recent RTS Cambridge Convention – which Lumina attended – the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced the government’s plans to forward the Channel 4 relocation process.
March 2017 saw the unexpected news that the government was looking at relocating Channel 4 out of London, to the surprise of many at the broadcaster. Originally included in the Conservatives’ manifesto at the 2017 General Election, the government have been particularly quiet regarding their pledge since Thursday 8th June. However, Karen Bradley MP (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) announced that the relocation was still on the cards in her keynote speech at the RTS Cambridge Convention.
Bradley announced: “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 wouldn’t be drawn into commenting on potential locations, however added: “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.”
Yet, there is another public service broadcaster who has moved some of their operations out of London. The BBC, who took up a significant portion of the MediaCityUK development, along with ITV and multiple independent companies within the industry. However, recent analysis by think tank Centre for Cities suggested that the economic benefits of moving a large portion of the corporation did not have a significant impact on the region (BBC News).
The BBC’s remit differs from Channel 4, who must commission all programmes from unaffiliated production companies. The organisation is not as large as the BBC and just 30 staff work outside of London. Channel 4 already have a presence in Manchester (Channel 4 Press), Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast. Moving a majority of the broadcaster out of London may provide an opportunity for more creative commissions and focus on a wider interpretation of the country than their current output does.
This saga remains young and with economic analysis due next week, further developments are expected. Whatever the eventual decision, Lumina will remain on hand to provide thoughts and analysis.