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Channel 4 claims relocation would be ‘highly damaging’

Karen Bradley

Karen Bradley

Channel 4 has said moving out of London would be “highly damaging”, after Culture Secretary Karen Bradley revealed the UK government is looking into the possibility of relocating the public broadcaster.

Speaking at the Nations and Regions Media Conference in Salford, Manchester this morning, Bradley said that Channel 4 would not be privatised, but that a government consultation would look at whether Channel 4 should move its headquarters and move its staff outside the capital.

“The most important factor in supporting the nations and regions is where we spend our money rather than where Channel 4 is headquartered,” said a Channel 4 spokesperson in response to the comments.

“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.”

However, Bradley said: “We want the benefits of this national asset to be spread far and wide, not just in London. 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.”

The news comes after a report into the future of Channel 4 last July concluded the risks associated with a mooted privatisation of the public broadcaster outweigh the potential benefits.

The House of Lords select committee on communications said that the broadcaster is sustainable in its current ad-supported form. It added that privatisation risks include seeing its public service remit diminished to maximise profit, regional commissioning and diversity threatened, and news, current affairs and film output particularly at risk.

Earlier this month Channel 4 chief executive David Abraham announced he will leave the broadcaster later this year to launch a new media business in 2018.