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Ofcom sets out proposed terms for the renewal of the Channel 4 licence
Ofcom yesterday set out proposals for the renewal of the Channel 4 licence, which is due to expire at the end of 2014.
Under the Communications Act 2003, Ofcom is required to issue a licence to Channel 4 Corporation for the broadcast of the Channel 4 service, and is required to impose certain obligations on the licence.
Ofcom is consulting on whether two of Channel 4’s current licence conditions remain appropriate, or whether amendments might be considered for:
the ‘out of England’ (UK nations) TV production quota, which imposes a minimum on Channel 4’s programme commissions outside of England, by volume and spend; and
the quota on the TV programming that Channel 4 produces for schools.
Ofcom considers that the other licence conditions remain appropriate and should remain unchanged in the renewed licence.
Ofcom is also proposing that a 10-year duration remains appropriate for the renewed licence.
TV production outside of England
In commissioning TV programmes outside of London, Channel 4 is required to use a range of production centres and to reflect different communities, cultural interests and traditions within the UK.
In 2010, an out of England quota was introduced for Channel 4 and set at a minimum level of 3% on programme commissions, by hours and spend, with the expectation that the level would be subject to review.
Ofcom is consulting on a proposal that Channel 4’s quota for programmes produced outside of England could increase over time to a minimum of 9% of original production by 2020.
Ofcom is seeking views on whether an increase in the quota level is appropriate and, if so, at what rate it should increase over time.
Schools programming quota
Channel 4’s public service remit requires it to include programmes of an educational nature. Additionally, it has a specific quota for programmes that are intended for use in schools.
Ofcom considers that setting the schools programming quota at a minimum level remains appropriate. However, given Channel 4 Corporation’s wider educational remit, there may be a case to either remove or amend this quota.
Ofcom is asking for views on how the main Channel 4 service may best deliver Channel 4 Corporation’s remit for education, and whether the current licence conditions are appropriate.
Renewed licence duration
Ofcom is proposing that the Channel 4 licence should be renewed for a further ten-year period1. This would be the same duration as the next Channel 3 and 5 licences.
Channel 4 Corporation has argued for a 10-year licence. It considers this necessary to provide business continuity and certainty to make necessary investments in distribution and content to safeguard its operating model. Ofcom considers that this business certainty would help Channel 4 Corporation deliver the Channel 4 service and its licence obligations.
Market changes and future challenges
Ofcom would also welcome views on its analysis of the how the market has changed and the potential challenges for Channel 4 Corporation in sustaining the service in the next licence period.
The consultation can be found here and closes on 10 October 2013.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Under Section 231 of the Communications Act 2003, Ofcom has the power to renew the Channel 4 licence for a further period. In doing so, Ofcom must set the licence conditions that Ofcom “consider appropriate” and determine the length of the renewed licence, which may run “for such period as Ofcom may think fit”.