Channel 4 pledges more documentaries outside London

Channel 4 is to introduce an out-of-London quota for its major documentary strands, Dispatches and Cutting Edge, as part of newly announced plans to broadcast more programmes made outside the capital.

The initiative, outlined by the channel’s director of television and content Kevin Lygo at an industry conference this afternoon, is contingent on Channel 4 getting a new funding settlement, news on which is expected from Ofcom tomorrow morning.

Speaking at the Television from the Nations and Regions conference in Salford, Lygo said Channel 4 aimed to spend at least £100m a year on commissioning TV material from outside the M25.

Under the proposals, a fixed number of episodes of Dispatches, Cutting Edge and a new religious affairs programme would be commissioned in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and a new commissioning editor would be recruited later this year to work in Channel 4’s Glasgow office.

“We see out-of-London production as a crucial element of our wider creative commitment to developing a strong Digital Britain, in both cultural and economic terms,” Lygo told delegates.

“The ability to commission programmes from all over the UK has provided us with some of our most compelling content, and contributed to our cultural heritage by enabling us to offer a more authentic representation of life in all parts of Britain.

He added: “There is a huge opportunity for the creative industries to be a key driver of the UK’s economy in the next decade, and we must ensure that we do everything we can to maximise this opportunity to build a strong and vibrant Digital Britain.”

Channel 4’s announcement follows a similar pledge by the BBC last October to produce more programes outside of London.

Question Time and Newsnight Review will move to Glasgow and BBC Northern Ireland will be asked to produce an increased number of Panorama episodes. BBC Wales will focus on documentary-making.

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