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October 1st, 2013

Channel 4 Needs to do more from and for the UK Nations

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Blog Administrator

October 1st, 2013

Channel 4 Needs to do more from and for the UK Nations

0 comments

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

schlesingerOfcom’s consultation on the renewal of Channel 4’s license closes on 10 October. University of Glasgow’s Philip Schlesinger, who also chairs Ofcom’s Advisory Committee for Scotland, shares the Committee’s response that the Channel should better represent UK’s nations and regional diversity.

The Advisory Committee for Scotland (ACS) has responded to Ofcom’s consultation on the renewal of Channel 4’s license.

We make four key points:

First, ACS agrees that Channel 4 needs to have a further period of ten years, to give it reasonable certainty.

UK NATIONS PORTRAYAL

Second, ACS considers it is now time for Channel 4 to revisit its remit. While Channel 4 currently addresses the portrayal of ethnic, cultural and sexual minorities, the conception of ‘cultural diversity’ it employs has not been extended explicitly to include the UK’s component nations, which we now consider to be anomalous, given devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the possibility of further constitutional change in Scotland.

Third, ACS has noted that Channel 4 is already delivering 5.4% production in the Nations so that the 9% target it has set itself by 2020 seems low, despite assurances that this will most likely be exceeded.

HIGHER OBLIGATION

We would like the assurances to become a calculated obligation, bearing in mind challenges to Channel 4’s trading position. Although we do not wish at this stage to prescribe a specific target to Ofcom for Channel 4, we consider that aiming at 12-15% by 2020 should be feasible, given the present upward drift.

Finally, ACS does not think that Scotland in its diversity is presently being portrayed on Channel 4.

Ofcom’s research indicates that whereas 36% of Channel 4’s consider that the Channel ‘portrays my region/nation fairly to rest of UK’, this contrasts with the 55% that consider the Channel to ‘show different kinds of cultures within the UK’. This suggests that the present remit does not take enough account of the UK’s national and regional diversity.

This post originally appeared on the Advice to Ofcom blog and is re-posted with permission and thanks. This article gives the views of the author, and does not represent the position of the LSE Media Policy Project blog, nor of the London School of Economics. 

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