Channel 4 spent nearly £30m more than the BBC on independent productions outside of London last year but the number of new suppliers it worked with declined by 14 per cent.
In a letter to the UK’s Scottish Affairs Committee following a recent hearing, chief executive Alex Mahon quoted research from consultant Oliver & Ohlbaum showing the broadcaster spent £171m with out-of-London suppliers in 2020, up on the BBC’s £144m and more than double ITV’s £77m.
Both ITV and BBC have larger budgets than Channel 4.
The move to virtual pitching was a “great leveller” during the pandemic, and the news comes as Channel 4 awaits news of whether it will be privatised.
The broadcaster has always been known for its adoption of more indie content, however Mahon was forced to respond to the Scottish Affairs Committee after it flagged complaints about the lack of Scottish representation in channel hits such as Gogglebox.
Clarification: The BBC have since claimed the numbers supplied by Channel 4 to the Scottish Affairs Committee were incorrect and will be clarifying with the committee at a later date.
Rhodri Talfan Davies, Director of Nations at the BBC said: “The BBC’s total spend in 2020 was £201m, not the £144m figure quoted. This means the BBC’s spend on independent TV Production outside London (across Network and Nations) was actually £30m higher, not lower, than Channel 4’s spend.”
City A.M. has contacted Channel 4 for clarification.