Posted: Wed 27th Apr 2022

Local TV company joins forces with Alyn and Deeside MP in bid to Save Channel 4

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Apr 27th, 2022

A local television company has met with Alyn and Deeside’s MP to describe the devastating impact that privatising Channel 4 would have on developing creativity and employment in the area.

Mark Tami MP has received several emails from constituents who are deeply concerned about the UK Conservative Government’s plans to privatise the channel.

On April 8th, Labour MP Mr Tami wrote to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture Media and Sport, Nadine Dorries, to make the case for keeping Channel 4 in public ownership.

He has since met with Hayley Jones and Christopher Wood of Osprey Television, Deeside Enterprise Centre, Shotton, who between them have more than 40 years of extensive prime time broadcast and digital experience.

Hayley and Christopher established Osprey during lockdown and based it locally in order to open doors to people in North Wales, who would previously have to go to Liverpool and Manchester for work in the TV industry.

They have funding from Channel 4 to develop a property-themed factual programme that would take their turnover to £1m in just nine months and lead to work for local TV professionals as well as suppliers in the area.

Osprey told Mr Tami that when commissioning programmes, Netflix and Amazon will want the international rights to it, whereas Channel 4 will allow independent suppliers like Osprey to sell the programme on to other countries.

They are also willing to take a chance on new talent and to develop a series that’s not an instant hit.

Christopher explained: “With other companies the metrics have to be right first time.

Channel 4 do look at the metrics, but they look at development first, why something didn’t work and how to improve. If Channel 4 has shareholders, it will become so much harder to find that nurturing.

“Programmes and films that champion diversity or are edgy such as My Beautiful Launderette, Bend it Like Beckham, The Last Leg and The Big Narstie Show wouldn’t exist without Channel 4.”

Hayley further described the impact on quality content and on the future of the industry.

She said: “Channel 4 set up a lot of training schemes and independent TV companies took people on and gave them experience.

The Government have announced a £4m fund to train people in the industry, but if Channel 4 is privatised I don’t think there will be jobs for them to go to.

Any money from the Levelling Up fund will be far less than the money that the industry will lose if Channel 4 is privatised.”

Research has shown that of 200 production companies analysed, almost 140 relied on Channel 4 for half or more of their TV production work.

Channel 4’s own research estimates that up to 1,300 jobs would be lost from businesses that the broadcaster deals with, such as production companies, if it moved out of public ownership.

“There is also a diversity issue,” added Hayley. “Many other channels are not diverse at all. Channel 4 needs to reflect the people watching it.”

In Mark Tami’s letter to the Secretary of State he strongly urged her to keep Channel 4 as the national treasure that it is. He wrote that he couldn’t see any solid reasoning behind the Government’s decision to privatise the channel, especially as it has just had one of its best financial years on record and has reported an increase in viewing figures across all its platforms.

“Channel 4 was created to be different, diverse and daring, and to champion the under-represented voices of this country,” he said.

“It already makes revenue from Netflix and Amazon who pay to stream its programmes.”

“It doesn’t need to compete with them, it needs to do what it does best and create fundamentally British content that speaks to and represents British audiences.”

“If Channel 4 is privatised companies like Osprey Television – who provide interesting work opportunities for local talent as well as creating opportunities for nearby suppliers – could be lost at great cost to our workforce.”

“I would also be very concerned about the quality of future content and how reflective it would be of our diverse society.”

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