Should a substantial part of Channel 4’s operations be moved out of London?
YES – Annie Gallimore, managing director of ad agency WCRS.
The Channel 4 relocation acts as a landmark moment in a move I predict will become much more frequent for London-based firms.
Working within an industry that is predominantly based in the capital, most of us can admit to at one time or another failing to understand the needs of the rest of the country, and the brand interpretation that audiences outside of London hold.
This potential relocation presents an opportunity for the advertising and media industry to burst this London bubble, and really get under the skin of the needs and desires of audiences that live outside the M25. On top of this, the move is expected to open up an additional 7,500 job opportunities and bring huge economic benefits to the region in which it’s relocated to.
With so many positive outcomes to be had for Channel 4, wider society, and the economy, I encourage this move.
NO – Alistair MacCallum, UK chief executive of media agency m/SIX.
As a publicly-owned and commercially-funded broadcaster, Channel 4 is obligated to commission content from external production companies rather than create it in-house (in this it is different to ITV and Sky). It also has to spread that investment across the UK – and where the organisation is based will make no difference to where its £600m+ budget is spent.
However, a strong Channel 4 is as important as a strong BBC from the perspective of media plurality and quality broadcasting. The relocation of any part of the organisation could negatively impact on the advertising revenues it generates to reinvest in the programming it commissions to meet its “statutory remit to deliver high-quality, innovative, alternative content”.
The UK advertising market is London-centric, and Channel 4’s strength is in the way its small and agile commercial team works with editorial teams to create compelling content and solutions to attract advertisers. The likely separation of those functions would dilute its market competitiveness.
Relocation would simply be a victory for gesture politics over the greater good.