More than 40 small TV and film production companies behind shows like Derry Girls and Say Yes to the Dress have come together to warn that the government’s proposed privatization of Channel 4 could bankrupt them.
The 44 companies, spread across Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Yorkshire, ran a full-page ad in Tuesday’s edition of the Daily Telegraph – apparently timed to strike readers at the party conference curator in Manchester.
The ad, placed in what is traditionally considered the Tories’ in-house newspaper, argues that the sale of Channel 4 – which is state-owned but is commercially funded by television advertising revenue and is not being held to generate profits – would be the antithesis of government policy. commit to “upgrading” businesses and communities across the country.
“It would cost jobs, reduce investment and endanger businesses in countries and regions,” the advertisement said. “Production companies that should know.”
Companies that co-signed the ad include Hat Trick, the creator of the hit comedy Derry Girls, and True North, the freelance behind shows such as Say Yes to the Dress: Lancashire.
“A privatized Channel 4 would be a disaster for all small and medium-sized production companies,” said Jannine Waddell, managing director of Waddell Media, the producer of series comprising Britain’s most expensive houses.
“No matter what the government says, the programming mandate would change and that would hurt us all. Would a business-oriented owner really support something like the Paralympic Games? We’re the biggest Channel 4 provider in Northern Ireland, and the impact here would be huge. “
Last month, former Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, who led an exploration in 2016 to privatize Channel 4 which was ultimately abandoned by the government, said any new owner should maintain the broadcaster’s commitments to regional production. and commissioning programs from independent producers.
An Ampere Analysis report found that over the past two years, Channel 4 has worked with more than 200 small production companies, more than any other broadcaster, 140 of them relying on it for half or most of all their televised work. He argued that a new owner would make deep cuts to Channel 4’s programming to make it more profitable, which could put up to 60 small production companies at risk of going out of business.
“The point of view across the industry is that in the drive to ‘level’ Britain, a publicly owned Channel 4 is the best ally the government could have,” said Dermot Lavery, co-founder by DoubleBand Films, program producer. including the old British ways.
He said the broadcaster “would help hundreds of new private companies [production] the companies to sow – the indies of the future – by ensuring that the largesse of public service broadcasting can be distributed fairly across the country. A private Channel 4 would kill that.