RTS Cambridge Convention: Media Secretary Karen Bradley has stressed that Channel 4 must have a major presence outside London by the end of this Parliament in 2022.

Speaking at the RTS Cambridge Convention, Bradley said that TV production is excessively concentrated in London and that Channel 4, as a publicly-owned public service broadcaster, would be key in redressing the balance.

“Relocation may not mean the whole business, but I am clear that Channel 4 must have a major presence outside London, and potentially increase commissioning,” said Bradley.

“Decisions about its programming should not all be made in the bubble of Westminster. And people seeking to work in the media should not feel that they have to move to London.

“I will continue to work really closely with Channel 4, and my preference is to agree a way forward in concert with Channel 4.

Bradley said she had already had “constructive discussions” with incoming chief executive Alex Mahon on the subject.

She added: “This is about Channel 4’s long-term future, and it may take some time to resolve. We are not looking at people moving tomorrow, but I do expect change by the end of this Parliament – and I hope to reach an agreement with Channel 4 on the direction forward by the end of the year.”

Bradley pointed to a public consultation on the issue, and said 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 added that 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.

“We also commissioned independent economic analysis. This is due to report to us next week, but emerging findings suggest there would be regional economic benefits from relocating Channel 4 and from increasing commissioning," said Bradley.

Tim Dams

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