U.K. Introduces TV Production ‘Safeguards’ Following Channel 4 Reform



The U.K. Government has promised a “package of new safeguards” for the country’s independent production industry following the introduction of the Media Bill, which has begun to makes its way through the U.K. Parliament.

The bill, once it becomes law, will enable publicly-owned broadcaster Channel 4 to make its own content for the first time — a move that has worried the U.K. production sector, who in the last few years have been rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic downturn.

Among the safeguards promised by the Government are increasing the requirement for independent U.K. commissions from 25% to 35% and enabling media regulator Ofcom to review how Channel 4 uses its newfound ability to make its own shows.

John McVay, CEO of U.Kl. producing body Pact, said: “Pact welcomes the fact that Government has listened to many of our proposals to ensure the regulation of Channel 4’s commercial production arm. However, we would call on Channel 4 to carefully consider any move into in-house production given the current difficult market conditions.”

Meanwhile Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon said she has been in dialogue with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to ensure the reforms do not disrupt the U.K.’s production industry. “We have been working with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to ensure any in-house production at Channel 4 would harness the benefits of Channel 4’s vital public-service role and mitigate the risks to the U.K.’s world-beating independent film and TV production sector,” said Mahon.

“In the complex and highly competitive future we foresee, in-house production may well offer good long-term support for Channel 4’s financial sustainability, but it would never alter Channel 4’s fundamental belief in the importance of independent producers in the U.K. Throughout our history, they have had the opportunity to build their companies by launching shows with us and owning their own IP. That partnership has been, and I am sure will remain, the lifeblood of our creative sector. Indeed, in a world where fewer rights are owned by indies, it must remain so.”


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