For the first time in its history, Channel 4 commissioned more programming from outside London than from producers in the English capital in 2013.
Communication regulator Ofcom made commissioning more content from outside of London (commonly referred to as ‘nations and the regions’) part of its new broadcasting license.
The London-based commercial broadcaster must meet new quotas for first-run production in the nations from 2020 and, in a public letter to Channel 4, Ofcom applauded the fact that last year 55% of its commissions were from producers in the ‘nations and regions’.
Channel 4 has already told Ofcom it will seek to commission more programming from the nations this year and will also start breaking down exactly how many hours are ordered from each individual country.
The broadcaster and Ofcom say the out of London commissioning drive will help Channel 4 better reflect the lives of viewers in the United Kingdom.
Having previously voiced concern about falling viewership at Channel 4, in turn affecting its ability to deliver its public service remit, Ofcom also noted in the letter that the downwards ratings trajectory has continued. On this point, it told Channel 4 that it plans to “consider whether there are any regulatory steps that could be taken to ensure that Channel 4 remains strong and able to deliver against its remit.”
This week Channel posted a £15 million (US$24 million) loss for 2013, half the losses posted the previous year. The network saw its overall share dip to 6%, a drop it attributed to the BBC pulling children’s content off of flagship channel BBC One. Channel revenues also fell £17 million year-on-year and were at £908 million.
Total spend on original content was £429 million.
Channel 4 has also ordered a local version of controversial Danish wedding format Married at First Sight, which has already been picked up in territories such as the US, Australia and Germany. Red Arrow International distributes the format, which Red Arrow-owned Snowman Productions created for DR3.