The government needs to drop its plans to sell off Channel 4. It’s a national asset which supports jobs and talent in Bristol.
Together with the three other Bristol MPs, I’ve written to the Culture Secretary asking him to rethink this shortsighted decision.
Rt. Hon. Oliver Dowden
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
100 Parliament Street
Thursday 22 July 2021
We are writing to you as we are very concerned about the plans to privatise Channel 4 and the damage that this will do to the creative sector in Bristol and across the UK. This is a vital sector for jobs and growth in Bristol and the West and one which has struggled greatly because of the coronavirus pandemic. Privatisation risks damaging that sector further at a time when they are recovering from the pandemic.
Channel 4 opened a new creative hub in Bristol at the start of last year based in the Bristol West constituency, benefitting the creative industries and supporting jobs across the city. Channel 4 moved one Creative Hub to Bristol, as well as Glasgow, and moved their headquarters to Leeds, as part of their aim to stimulate growth outside of London – which as we understand is part of the government’s Levelling Up agenda.
Bringing Channel 4 to Bristol has been great for our creative sector, supporting growth and opening up local opportunities. This investment in regional growth – which Bristol fought hard to secure – is supporting local businesses and independent production companies and must not be jeopardised by an ill-considered change of ownership or model. The risk of privatisation has led Channel 4 bosses to warn that such a change could cause irreversible damage to a hugely successful part of the UK economy and put at risk thousands of jobs in our world leading creative sector. We are extremely concerned by how this could affect people working in Bristol and those in Bristol’s creative sector and across the region. Channel 4 also has a key role in promoting and encouraging diversity in the whole of the creative sector.
If the government wants to demonstrate seriousness about supporting the creative industries in Bristol and the South West – some of our greatest cultural and economic assets – we ask that you urgently reconsider these proposals.
We have specific questions we would like you to address:
- What assessment has been done of the economic impact on Bristol’s creative industries of any privatisation of Channel 4?
- What impact has been done of the impact on training and apprenticeships for young people in particular in the creative industries?
- What discussions has the government had with the trade unions, businesses and other key stakeholders in Bristol?
- What consultation has taken place with people working in the creative industries in Bristol who stand to be affected by any changes in status to Channel 4?
- What assessment has been made of the potential impact on the quality and variety of commissioning if Channel 4 were to be privatised?
We would like to meet with you to discuss these and will liaise with your office to arrange this.
Bristol’s Members of Parliament:
Thangam Debbonaire, MP for Bristol West
Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West
Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South
Kerry McCarthy, MP for Bristol East