Channel 4 says being forced out of London would be 'highly damaging' as Government threat looms

Sam Lister
Channel 4 could be forced to leave the capital under the Government shake-up: Getty

Channel 4 has warned that forcing it to move outside of London “would be highly damaging” after the Government announced the broadcaster will remain publicly owned, but faces being relocated.

How it spends money and where it is based is being reviewed to make sure it is "serving the country", Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said.

The Government wants the "benefits of this national asset to be spread far and wide, not just in London", she insisted.

Channel 4 welcomed the decision to rule out privatisation, but warned that forcing it out of the capital would harm the company.

A spokesman said: "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."

The Government carried out an 18-month review of the channel, which has more than 800 staff but fewer than 30 based outside central London.

Ms Bradley will outline plans for the shake-up in a speech to the Nations and Regions Media Conference in Salford on Wednesday.

Channel 4, which is publicly owned but commercially funded, is a "precious public asset", the cabinet minister will say.

But it must "provide a platform for unheard voices and untold stories from right across the United Kingdom".

A consultation will look at whether Channel 4 should relocate all or some of its staff outside London, including the possibility of moving its headquarters.

It will also consider increasing the amount of money that must be spent on productions outside the M25, which is set at 35 per cent of original British commissions, to 50 per cent.

"We want the benefits of this national asset to be spread far and wide, not just in London," Ms Bradley will say.

"And that means rethinking where it is based, and where it spends money.

"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.

"There is a great deal of talent outside London and too much of it is being overlooked."

She will add: "We want Channel 4 to have a major presence outside London, stimulating creative and economic activity, including jobs, right across the country.

"In so doing, it can play a leading role in a public service broadcasting system that reflects our United Kingdom.

"Public assets should deliver for the public in every possible way.

"That is key to building an economy that works for everyone, not just a privileged few."

PA

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