‘Unique’ Channel 4 must remain in public hands, says Labour’s Ian Murray

Ian Murray is set to discuss Channel 4’s “unique contribution” to Scotland’s creative industry in an address to the International TV Festival in Edinburgh on Friday.

The Labour MP will call for the channel to remain in public hands amid controversial privatisation proposals from the UK Government.

Since 2004, the broadcaster has spent more than £220 million on productions in Scotland, with an increase expected on the average £20 million spent annually in recent years.

It has also given support to production companies such as Glasgow-based Black Camel Pictures, which produced the Bafta award-winning film Sunshine on Leith, and the Scottish company behind popular property show Location, Location, Location.

Speaking ahead of his appearance at the TV festival, Mr Murray said: “Channel 4 makes a unique contribution to broadcasting in the United Kingdom, and a significant contribution to the creative economy in Scotland.

“Hundreds of millions of pounds have been invested into the creative sector in Scotland, including many small and medium-sized production companies.

“There are so many Scottish success stories from Channel 4, including Location, Location, Location, and Sunshine on Leith, supported by Film 4.”

The Edinburgh South MP added: “Channel 4 is so important to the broadcasting and production ecosystem but all of that success is under threat by privatisation.

“The broadcasters’ office in Glasgow, and others across the regions and nations of the UK, have helped people to break into (the) industry and make it accessible to people of all backgrounds.

“The industry, in Scotland and across the UK, is almost universally opposed to the Government’s plans to sell off the broadcaster.

“The next Prime Minister should listen to the thriving TV industry in the UK, the envy of the world, and abandon the unnecessary, hugely damaging and unwanted privatisation of Channel 4.”

A Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport spokesperson said: “The Broadcasting White Paper set out how moving Channel 4 out of public ownership would give it access to greater investment to grow and create more unique programming for audiences across the UK.

“Channel 4 has excellent relationships with independent producers, including in Scotland, and there is no reason this should change. In private ownership it would remain a public service broadcaster and keep its obligations to produce content outside London and England, which will benefit Scottish audiences.”