Select Committee on Scottish Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Channel 4 Television (PDB 1)

  Channel 4 is a UK-wide broadcaster, transmitting the same schedule of programming without regional variations (except in Wales, where its analogue frequency is used by S4C). However, we are highly conscious of the need to reflect the varied interests and demands of the nations and regions of the UK through the diversity of our output.

  The Channel is on target to meet the Independent Television Commission's requirement that 30 per cent of programming by value should be commissioned from outside the London area by 2002. As a publisher/broadcaster, all our programmes are made by outside companies. Our Nations and Regions Department, based in Glasgow and headed by Stuart Cosgrove, is responsible for ensuring that the best creative talent, resources and ideas outside London are utilised by the channel.

  Channel 4 currently commissions and sub-contracts creative work from over 50 independent companies in Scotland (more than any other UK broadcaster). We provide extensive training, talent development and company development schemes for the production sector in Scotland. Seventy per cent of Scottish feature films made in the last ten years have been at least part-funded by FilmFour, the channel's film production subsidiary. By providing an opportunity for Scottish companies to "opt in" to a UK-wide network we allow them to reach a wider audience, extend their experience and raise their ambition. We believe we make a unique contribution to the cultural and creative life of Scotland.

  Channel 4 takes seriously its responsibility to report major developments in Scotland, especially following devolution. Our award-winning Channel 4 News reports consistently and in depth the major developments in Scottish life and politics, in the authoritative style for which it is renowned. Sarah Smith, the programme's Scotland correspondent based in its Edinburgh bureau, is a respected reporter of Scottish affairs who is highly valued by the programme's audience.

  Channel 4 News also encourages independent production companies to make special reports for the programme through its independents fund.

  Powerhouse, the channel's midday political programme, reports regularly on developments in Scotland as part of its brief to cover politics in all the major assemblies of the United Kingdom. The programme frequently includes filmed reports and interviewees from Scotland, and has a particular interest in investigating those decisions of the Scottish Parliament (for example on tuition fees and personal care for the elderly) that may have implications for the UK as a whole.

  Since devolution took effect, the annual Channel 4 Political Awards has included a new award of Scottish Politician of the Year. This is awarded to the individual judged to have made an outstanding contribution to the Scottish Parliament in the preceding year and is decided by secret ballot of all MSPs. In 2000 the award was won by Wendy Alexander MSP and in 2001 by Jack McConnell MSP. Nominations for the 2002 award have just been called for.

  Channel 4 believes it has reported Scotland fully and vigorously in the two and a half years since the Scottish Parliament was first elected, and has ensured developments in Scotland that are important in themselves or have wider consequences for the rest of the UK are explained to our audience. This approach is consistent with the channel's broader ambition to ensure that Scottish culture and creativity are fully reflected in our output.

26 November 2001

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