Channel 4 offers to sell London headquarters under alternative plan to privatization | Channel 4

Channel 4 has said it could sell its London headquarters for £100m and nearly double the number of staff working out of the capital under “base north” plans that it hopes will offer an attractive alternative to the government privatization drive.

Describing itself in the proposals as the “leveling broadcaster,” it said it intended to increase spending on TV shows commissioned by production companies outside of London at hundreds of millions of pounds a year by 2030, in a move he estimated would create at least 3,000 jobs.

The broadcaster, which is state-owned but commercially funded, said the changes would mean most of its 800 staff would be based in places including its “national headquarters” in Leeds and centers such as glasgowBristol, Manchester and Birmingham, with the number of staff working outside London almost doubling to 600 by 2025.

“In addition, we would optimize our presence in London by creating a new base in London that reflects our new ways of working,” the broadcaster said in its plan, called 4: The Next Episode, which had been rejected by the government.

“As we embrace hybrid working and reorient our focus from London to nations and regions, a reorientation intrinsic to our existence in public ownership, Channel 4 it may require a London base of a different scale.”

The government eyed the £100m windfall from a possible sale of Channel 4’s headquarters in Victoria, central London, the last time it tried to privatize the station, but ultimately backed down.

Channel 4’s plan also includes setting up a joint venture, with an outside investor as the majority shareholder, to spend £200m a year on new content and ultimately increase its total programming budget from £700m. pounds sterling to one billion pounds sterling a year by 2030.

Other plans include launching its All4 streaming service globally, targeting the younger demographic, which it believes could bring in an extra £100m a year.

Last week, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) began the formal process to privatize Channel 4 in a far-reaching white paper that rocked the British media industry, despite widespread opposition across the board. industry and Labor and Conservative MPs. , arguing that it needs to be in private hands in order to financially compete with global streaming giants like Netflix.

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The government consultation received 56,000 responses, with 96% against privatization.

“Channel 4 is in the best health it has ever been,” said Alex Mahon, the station’s CEO. “This is an attractive, realistic and sustainable solution while remaining in the hands of the British public.

“There is a lot of evidence [that privatisation] It is not what the public wants or what the industry wants. I’m sure DCMS doesn’t want to hurt the creative industries. But this white paper, as it is currently presented, we must be very careful not to create unintended negative consequences for the industry. There are many stages to go through in the discussion of ownership.”

Channel 4’s investigation estimates that the government plans to do away with its unique publisher/broadcaster model, in which rights to programs revert to creators, allowing them to exploit them commercially after broadcast. it could cost producers 4,000 jobs and hundreds of millions a year.

There has been speculation in city circles that Mahon, who has extensive experience in the private sector, including spending nearly a decade directing Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine, creator of shows including MasterChef, which was sold to his father Rupert’s News Corporation in 2011 – may be involved in a form of buyout by the issuer’s management.

However, on Thursday, Mahon ruled out any potential involvement, saying the future of Channel 4 would be in the hands of the government and UK Government Investments (UKGI), which oversees the state-owned station.

“I have to be very clear about delivering the best for Channel 4,” he said. “And for that I have to run the business, be independent of those things, optimize the mission, do that for the next few years. What is decided or not decided through a sales process is not up to me. That will depend on UKGI and how the government does it. Therefore, I remain completely independent of that.”

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