Channel 4 to commission more from outside England

The proportion of programming Channel 4 commissions from outside England is likely to increase from 3% to 9% under the terms of the UK commercial broadcaster’s new ten-year license.

The ad-funded public service broadcaster’s digital license expires at the end of the year and UK communications regulator Ofcom has been consulting on possible changes that could be implemented in the next ten-year license.

The discussion with interested parties was almost solely focussed on the proportion of programming that the broadcaster commissions from the UK territories outside of England.

The London-based broadcaster is currently required to commission 3% of all content from outside of England and having received 37 submissions and Channel 4’s own recommendations, Ofcom is now proposing this is increased to 9%. The regulator would like the new rules, requiring 9% by volume of programming and by programme spend, to take effect from 2020.

A consultation is underway on the 9% proposal, which closes early next month.

UK producers association Pact was one of those that responded in the initial consultation and welcomed the idea of raising the out of England commissioning level. However, it cautioned that the broadcaster’s commissioning spend should be more focused on returning series.

“We need to achieve a better balance between more returning series and the channel working with more producers,” Pact noted. “For example, the fact that there are around 500 producers that receive one commission every two years is not a sustainable business model. Channel 4 needs to focus on longer running series in order that the sector can build more sustainable businesses.”


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