A round-up of some of the media’s latest news from Committee member Colin Sykes
As Christmas fades into the distance and Santa takes his sleigh in to get converted to electricity the BBC is celebrating a bumper set of audience figures on iPlayer and BBC Sounds. This is new territory for us after years of focusing on traditional viewing figures but many more people are obviously streaming programmes and not watching in real time.
The streaming services like Netflix and Amazon are cagey at releasing audience figures and there have been assumptions that traditional broadcasters are massively losing ground to them. These figures present a more nuanced picture:
Channel 4 is back in the news and this time the sale our industry never wanted has bitten the dust. The Culture Secretary says she wants to give the channel greater commercial flexibility. Early signs of that are Channel 4 possibly making some of its own programmes and maybe launching a paid for streaming service for viewers overseas. A number of commentators have said this could involve the soft sell of British expertise in programme making to countries around the world enhancing the UK’s reputation abroad. Something the BBC has been talking about for some time now.
The other possibility is yet more Channel 4 staff moving out of London (following the opening of the Leeds centre) and the possible sale of its London HQ.
The privatisation of Channel 4 has been ruled out by the culture secretary who said the sale of the broadcaster would be disruptive to the country’s television production industry.
Michelle Donelan said in a letter to the prime minister that there were “better ways to secure” the channel’s sustainability, adding that she wanted to give the publicly-owned channel greater “commercial flexibility” and allow it to produce more of its own content.
In a letter to Rishi Sunak, which was published by the News Agents podcast on Wednesday, Donelan said she recognised her decision would “be popular with a majority of parliamentarians, particularly those who raised concerns about the effect a sale of C4C may have on the UK’s system of public service broadcasting and the wider creative economy.
Donelan said the government would also considering lifting the channel’s £200 million borrowing limit.The letter states that Channel 4 had agreed to move more of its operations outside of London with an increase in the number of jobs outside the capital from 300 to 600 by 2025.
The government originally launched a consultation into the channel’s future in 2021, when Oliver Dowden was the culture secretary.
Statement from Channel 4: