Cardiff ‘ideal home’ for Channel 4, Welsh Government says

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Channel 4 headquarters
Image caption Channel 4 has welcomed the UK Government’s decision to rule out privatisation

Cardiff and the surrounding area would be “ideal” as the new home of Channel 4, the Welsh Government has said.

Responding to a consultation on the broadcaster’s future, officials told UK ministers the channel could do a lot more “to deliver for the people of Wales”.

English cities including Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool have also made the case for relocation.

Channel 4 said there were substantial risks if it were to move out of London.

‘Made in Wales’

It said spending more money on commissioning programmes from production companies in Wales and the other nations and regions would be “the most effective single means of increasing economic impact” across the UK.

Channel 4 has welcomed the Conservative government’s decision, after an 18-month review, to rule out privatisation.

But its response to the UK government’s 12-week consultation does not contain specific plans about how to increase its contribution outside London.

UK Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said she was “unsympathetic towards those who recoil in horror at the very idea of media jobs being based outside the capital”.

The Welsh Government said the risk of moving Channel 4 “could be significant if the location isn’t chosen wisely” but “Wales – and especially the production hub already thriving around Cardiff and the south – is an ideal candidate for such a relocation”.

It pointed to Sherlock, Born to Kill, Journey’s End and others as “made in Wales” productions.

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Channel 4 Productions in Wales in 2016

  • Britain’s Billionaire Immigrants – Avanti Media
  • Allianz Paralympic Shorts – Boom Cymru
  • IPC Athletics European Championships: Grosseto 2016 – Boom Cymru
  • IPC Swimming European Championships: Funchal 2016 – Boom Cymru
  • Posh Pawn: Series 3 – Boom Cymru
  • World’s Most Expensive Toys – Boom Cymru
  • Anniversary Games 2016 – Boomerang
  • Posh Pawn: Series IV – Boomerang
  • Posh Pawnbrokers: Series 2 – Boomerang
  • The Snowdonia Marathon & Snowdon Race 2016 – Cwmni Da
  • Millionaire’s Mansions: Designing Britain’s Most Exclusive Homes – Indus Films
  • My Millionaire Dads and Me – Rondo Media
  • Coming Up 2015 – Touchpaper
  • Britain’s Favourite Superhero – Yeti Media

SOURCE: Channel 4 Consultation Submission

Despite recognising its current “positive and productive relationship” with Channel 4, the Welsh Government said the broadcaster “must change” if it is to have a greater impact in Wales.

It said: “It is regrettable that two years after the chief executive of Channel 4 made a very positive visit to Wales… [it] still has no permanent base and no commissioning staff in Wales.”

It also called for Channel 4 to be set a specific Welsh quota for programming hours and spend.

Currently, the broadcaster must spend 3% of its commissioning hours and finances in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, rising to 9% by 2020.

The Welsh Government said it was an “unambitious, unchallenging target” given a “simple population share would equate to 5%” of programming and money coming to Wales.

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Media captionMedia analyst Toby Syfret said there was a “very limited case for relocation”

Cardiff council has also called for Channel 4 to relocate its 800 staff to the Welsh capital.

But Teledwyr Annibynnol Cymru (TAC), which represents about 50 production companies in Wales, said the channel should “have some form of established permanent presence in Wales” rather than move completely out of London.

Media analyst Toby Syfret said there was a “very limited case for relocation”.

“However, what we have seen in the last three or four years is that Channel 4 is a political football, which has been used to express political thoughts,” he said.

A Channel 4 spokesman said: “Channel 4 already delivers a significant impact in the UK’s nations and regions and we want to continue to work with the government as part of its consultation to explore meaningful ways to grow this further and support jobs, investment and growth in the creative economy across the whole of the UK.”

The UK government is now considering the consultation responses.

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