Brassed Off! Labour pledges to stand up for Britain’s cultural crown jewels as Conservative Channel 4 sell off undermines British values and institutions and threatens jobs in Bristol and the West of England

In an debate in Parliament today (Tuesday 14 June), Labour is calling on Conservative MPs to stand up for British values and institutions, vote to protect Bristol’s Channel 4 Creative hub and stop the Channel 4 sell off to secure the future of one of Britain’s cultural crown jewels.

Channel 4’s unique public service remit has propelled British film making and talent onto the world stage at no cost to the public. Film4 spends more on British film than any other UK broadcaster, investing around £25 million annually into feature films nurturing diverse new talent, and helping to sustain writers, directors and production companies across the UK.

Bristol is home to Channel 4’s West of England creative hub. Since it opened two years ago, the Creative Hub supports over 20 Channel 4 roles and thousands more in the region’s wider creative sector. As part of Channel 4’s unique business model, the broadcaster commissions its content from external production companies, benefitting hundreds of small West of England producers.

Independent analysis shows that Channel 4’s annual GVA was almost £1 billion last year. A privatised foreign-owned Channel 4 would look for economies of scale and quickly concentrate funding back in London and the South East.

Shadow Culture Secretary, Lucy Powell MP said:

“Conservatives MPs have a chance today to vote with Labour and show they’re brassed off with the government’s decision to sell off one of Britain’s cultural crown jewels and kill off our home-grown film industry. This sale threatens Bristol’s brilliant Channel 4 Creative hub and will undermining West of England-made programming and representation.

“The nation has just come together to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee, with public service broadcasters beaming this proud British moment around the world yet the Conservatives betray our shared values, pursuing Channel 4’s sale in an act of cultural vandalism.

“Labour is now the Party of modern Britain with a positive vision for our country’s future championing much loved institutions which embody our British values and help our country grow and prosper.”

West of England Metro Mayor Dan Norris said:

“Despite public opposition, the Government are pressing ahead with the petulant and malicious privatisation of Channel 4, a true levelling-up broadcaster. Channel 4 doesn’t cost the taxpayer a single penny to run and it uses its profits to commission programmes supporting amazing local independent production companies creating thousands of jobs in the process, including here in the West of England.

“By Selling off Channel 4 to what is likely to be a foreign company will have a real impact on the Creative Hub in Bristol and the commitments made to the amazing creative talent and jobs we have in the West of England’s world-renowned creative industries. Far from levelling up, the Government has chosen instead to foment a phoney culture, with local jobs and brilliant content falling victim.

“Today, Torie MPs have the chance to put this right. They can vote with Labour and show that the Government must finally put common sense before ideology. Otherwise we risk losing the vast economic benefits that Channel 4 brings to places like the West of England”.

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