Ofcom confirms terms for new Channel 4 licence

11 March 2014

Ofcom today announced that Channel 4’s licence will be renewed for a 10-year period.

Ofcom has also confirmed Channel 4’s licence obligations, which are designed to provide benefits for TV viewers across the UK, while being sustainable for the broadcaster over the new licence period from 1 January 2015.

Channel 4’s current licence expires at the end of 2014.

In July last year, Ofcom consulted on licence conditions for a renewed Channel 4 licence, and ran a further consultation in January 2014 on Channel 4’s ‘out of England’ (UK nations) production quota.

Increased programming from the nations

Ofcom has decided that Channel 4’s quota for programmes produced outside of England (in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combined) will triple from its current level of 3 per cent of volume and spend to 9 per cent from 2020.

This will require Channel 4 to increase the proportion of its TV production spend and volume in the UK nations by a minimum of an estimated 60 per cent and 30 per cent respectively from the current levels.

Ofcom believes an increase in production in the UK nations would benefit viewers by increasing the range of production centres, and programmes produced in them, that are broadcast on Channel 4. Production in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland may also contribute to the reflection of different communities and cultures in the UK.

Other licence terms

Ofcom’s July 2013 consultation also considered whether Channel 4’s other licence conditions remained appropriate. Few respondents proposed changes to the other licence conditions and Ofcom has decided that they will remain unchanged in the new licence.

This includes the minimum quota level for schools programming. None of the responses to our consultation argued that a change to the schools programming quota in the Channel 4 licence was an effective means of improving delivery of Channel 4’s remit for education.

Channel 4 sets out its strategy for education in its annual Statement of Media Content Policy and Ofcom will continue to engage with the broadcaster on the delivery of its educational remit in this process.

Licence period

Ofcom has decided to renew the Channel 4 licence for a 10-year period. This will allow for long-term investment and commissioning by Channel 4 to meet its obligations. It will also align the licence period with those of Channel 3 (ITV, STV and UTV) and Channel 5.

A statement on the renewal of the Channel 4 licence can be found here.

ENDS

NOTES FOR EDITORS

  1. The licence for the Channel 4 public television broadcasting service expires at the end of 2014. It is held, and can only be held, by Channel 4 Television Corporation. Ofcom has the power to renew the licence, and in doing so must set the licence conditions that it considers appropriate and determine the duration of the renewed licence.
  2. Channel 4’s licence conditions include quotas for independent production; out of London production; original productions; UK news and current affairs; and conditions related to Channel 4’s public service remit.
  3. Channel 4 projects that this will require an additional £12 million production spend in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combined above their current annual spend of £20 million.
  4. Channel 4’s schools programming quota is 30 minutes per year.
  5. Under the Communications Act 2003, Ofcom is required to impose certain conditions in the Channel 4 licence. In July 2013 Ofcom consulted on the licence conditions and in January 2014 on the proposed change to the ‘out of England’ (UK nations) production quota.