SCOTLAND could benefit from an increased number of Channel 4 programmes made north of the Border under new plans put forward by regulator Ofcom.
The regulator wants to increase the quota of the amount of shows the station has to make in areas of the UK outside of England as part of criteria set out for the renewal of Channel 4’s broadcasting licence, which runs out at the end of next year.
Currently, 3 per cent of Channel 4’s programming must come from “a range of production centres” outside of its production hub in London, but Ofcom wants to increase the proportion to a minimum of 9 per cent by 2020.
“In commissioning TV programmes outside of London, Channel 4 is required to use a range of production centres and to reflect different communities, cultural interests and traditions within the UK,” said Ofcom in a statement. “In 2010, an out-of-England quota was introduced for Channel 4 and set at a minimum level of 3 per cent on programme commissions, by hours and spend, with the expectation that the level would be subject to review.”
The proposals come just months after Ofcom wrote to Channel 4 to urge that more programmes are made in the regions – not just to spread investment, but also in a bid to reflect the different cultural priorities of people living in different parts of the UK.
A spokeswoman for the channel said: “Channel 4 works with creative partners from all over the UK. The proposal to increase production from outside England builds on our progress in recent years and will make a meaningful contribution in continuing to work with and commission independent production companies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.”
Editors from the channel’s Daytime, Factual Entertainment and Features hold monthly meetings in Channel 4’s Glasgow office, which houses a handful of staff, under the jurisdiction of Scot Stuart Cosgrove, director of nations and regions.
Last year, £21 million, around 5 per cent of its main channel spend and exceeding Ofcom’s 3 per cent minimum quota, was spent by the channel on programming made in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Caroline Parkinson, director of Creative Development at Creative Scotland, said: “Scotland has talented and ambitious production companies, combined with skilled crew which makes Scotland a great base for producing television.”
As part of the requirements to renew the licence for ten years, Ofcom may scrap the requirement for Channel 4 to make a quota of schools programmes.
A consultation into the proposals will run until 10 October.