Unions concerned at proposals for Channel 4 regional production budget

Unions have raised concerns about Ofcom proposals which could allow Channel 4 to allocate 91% of its production budget to projects in England.

The broadcasting regulator is consulting on the licence renewal for Channel 4 as the current licence ends on December 31 this year.

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), representing a number of unions which work in broadcasting, says the “made outside England” quota should be increased to at least 16%, with a specific Scottish quota of 8%.

Union leaders say Scottish production companies could lose out under the proposals and a joint letter has been sent to Channel 4 and Ofcom.

STUC general secretary Roz Foyer said: “It would be utterly incompatible for Channel 4 – a public service broadcaster – to have its production funding allocated in this way that completely neglects the other regions of the UK.

“Public broadcasting should benefit the public as a whole, not just a certain section of the UK.

“Freelancers, creatives and artists rely on a thriving Scottish production scene to put food on the table and pay the bills.”

She continued: “These proposals from Channel 4, which seem to have been accepted by Ofcom, make it harder for workers in Scotland’s creative industries to benefit and get their fair share.

“We would urge a complete rethink from both Ofcom and Channel 4. Public service broadcasters such as Channel 4 should serve us all.”

An Ofcom spokesman said: “We will carefully consider all responses to our consultation before publishing our final decision this summer.”

Channel 4 said it has a voluntarily increased its nations and regions commitments from 35% to 50% and has regularly surpassed them.

The broadcaster operates commercially and does not have its own in-house production facilities.

A spokesman for Channel 4 said: “Channel 4 is fully committed to driving growth and investment in the nations and regions and has made demonstrable progress over recent years.

“Whilst we of course look to ensure that our commissioning spend benefits all three devolved nations, no commercial broadcaster, including Channel 4, has nominal or voluntary quota for the individual nations.

“We are fully committed to the nations and regions – our 4 All The UK strategy has introduced regional hubs, creating more than 500 roles out of London with a commitment to reach 600 by 2025; we have voluntarily increased our nations and regions commissioning quota from 35% to 50%; we have worked with screen agencies across the UK to introduce bespoke commissioning development initiatives; we have invested millions in the nations and regions through our 4Skills programme delivering 57,000 training, learning and development opportunities in 2023.

“These interventions have seen Channel 4’s out of London commissioning spend steadily increase over the licence period to a record £228m in 2022.”