PLANS for 91% of Channel 4’s annual production budget to be allocated to England is “totally unacceptable,” Scotland’s Culture Secretary has said.

It comes after screen agencies in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales all expressed concern that Ofcom is recommending a new London quota and renewal of a 91% Channel 4 production quota for England.

We previously told how Screen Scotland, Creative Wales and Northern Ireland Screen are pushing for Channel 4’s “out of England” quota to increase to 16%+ and to introduce individual quotas for each UK nation in line with those accepted by the BBC since 2009.

A number of Scottish TV production companies also labelled the plans "London-centric". 

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Writing in the Edinburgh Evening News, Scottish Culture Secretary Angus Robertson said TV production had been “over-concentrated in London and the south-East of England for decades”.

He continued: “Now, however, Ofcom is recommending 91% of Channel 4’s annual production budget should be allocated to England, with the remaining 9% allocated to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland rather than their 16%.

“This would amount to a 44% short-changing of the sector over the next decade. Frankly, it is an outrage and cannot be allowed to go ahead.”

He added that he had recently met with Ofcom chief executive Melanie Dawes where he “made the position of the Scottish Government absolutely clear – the plans are totally unacceptable”.

The National:

Robertson also pointed out that an open letter has now been signed by more than 30 independent production companies calling on Ofcom to reverse its recommendation.

“Channel 4 has done much in recent years to commission programming from outside the M25 and the UK media regulator Ofcom has played a positive part in that general trend with the BBC,” he added.

“They must think again about their flawed plans for Channel 4 which we would be stuck with for the next decade.”

A spokesperson for Channel 4 previously said: “Channel 4 is fully committed to driving growth and investment in the nations and regions and has made demonstrable progress over recent years.

"Whilst we of course look to ensure that our commissioning spend benefits all three devolved nations, no commercial broadcaster, including Channel 4, has nominal or voluntary quota for the individual nations.

“We are fully committed to the nations and regions – our 4 All The UK strategy has introduced regional hubs, creating more than 500 roles out of London with a commitment to reach 600 by 2025; we have voluntarily increased our nations and regions commissioning quota from 35% to 50%; we have worked with screen agencies across the UK to introduce bespoke commissioning development initiatives; we have invested millions in the nations and regions through our 4Skills programme delivering 57,000 training, learning and development opportunities in 2023.

"These interventions have seen Channel 4’s out of London commissioning spend steadily increase over the licence period to a record £228m in 2022.”

A spokesperson for Ofcom said: "We will carefully consider all responses to our consultation before publishing our final decision this summer."