Channel 4 jobs destined for Bristol could be diverted back to London unless controversial Conservative Government privatisation plans are overturned, warned Labour’s Dan Norris.
The Mayor was speaking ahead of a visit to the broadcaster’s Bristol-based creative hub where he discussed the Government’s proposals to sell off Channel 4 recently announced in the Queen’s Speech.
The much-loved broadcaster bases over 400 jobs outside of the capital, including 20 in Bristol. They want to double this by 2025. In discussions with Head of Channel 4 Bristol Sacha Mirzoeff, Mr Norris heard how expansion plans of their skills and training programme could also be at risk.
Experts warn privatisation could have serious knock-on effects on the wider creative economy. As part of the Government plans to scrap Channel 4’s unique business model where the broadcaster commissions its content from external production companies, small West of England producers such as Bristol companies Drummer in Bishopton and Honey Bee Media in Henleaze to name but a few could be left out in the cold. The Government only says Channel 4’s new owner must continue to commission an unspecified “minimum volume of programming” from indie producers. Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: “Despite public outcry, the Government are pressing on with their ideological pursuit of the sale of Channel 4. I am deeply concerned about how this will impact the Creative Hub in Bristol and the commitments made to the amazing creative people and jobs we have in our region’s world-leading creative sector. Everyone knows that in selling Channel 4 off, these commitments would be watered down as any new owner would put profit before public service. It’s also bad economics as Channel 4’s own plan for the future would make more money for the Government by 2026 than the one-off sale proceeds and it will damage the regional economy not to mention GB PLC”.
Speaking ahead of the visit, Head of Channel 4 Bristol, Sacha Mirzoeff, said: “It is great to meet Dan and talk him through the work we’re undertaking in the region from Channel 4’s Bristol hub, not just the increased activity in terms of commissions and dealings with the South West’s and Wales’s independent production sector but also the development opportunities such as our TV Drama New Writers scheme, the Factual Fast Track Scheme, the Emerging Indie Fund and the many training events and courses. The work of our team in Bristol is already making a difference in the local economy but we’ve still got lots more to do with wider representation on and off screen and it’s really important we keep up the momentum”.