Thursday, 13 July 2017

May the 4s Be With You



Channel 4, it is reported, fresh from fighting off privatisation, is now intent upon pushing back against talk that they might, brace yourselves, have to move out of London to somewhere - and I'm sorry there's really no way of sparing you this - like Birmingham. Or Manchester.

Just imagine it. How are the highly remunerated executives of Channel 4 to cope with living in a place where the houses are cheaper, where people are friendlier, where you are closer to the countryside and where their mega salaries will stretch even further?

But, I hear you ask, what about all of those programmes that they make? Will they not be impacted by such a move? Well fortunately this is nothing we have to worry about since Channel 4 don't make their own programmes. They commission them. Even Channel 4 News is made by ITN, meaning that Jon Snow will still be able to suck up to his left wing chums from their studios in London and Channel 4 will be further away from him and his loud ties.

Oh and of course Channel 4 would have more money to poach programmes away from the BBC.

I never really understood what the objection to privatising Channel 4 was. After all few people knew that it is a nationally owned channel anyway on account of its adverts. It makes a profit after all and invests in British content. It could even have its precious remit preserved, although how that remit works for the channel that brought us Big Brother, Gogglebox and has bought up the Great British Bake Off is a mystery.

But resisting moving to a different city? On what grounds? Birmingham and Bristol are both less than 2 hours away by train or car. Both have great and proud cultural histories already. Manchester is only a little further away and is already home to a great deal of Britain's commercial television and to large parts of current BBC output. Why do executives who only commission programming need to be in London anyway? And in particular why do they need to do so from hugely expensive headquarters in the heart of by far Britain's most expensive city. Britain is not a big country. We are a small island and even if we weren't I hear that telephone calls and even video conferencing is available for those high powered meetings that need to be held to discuss the latest cutting edge offering about how awful the Tories are and to discuss soap operas on sofas.

The board of Channel 4 could simply refuse to sanction this move and thus the government would need to legislate. Let's hope it comes to that. Nothing could add more to the gaiety of the nation in these troubling times than forcing luvvies not only to leave the EU but to relocate away from London and become northerners themselves rather than merely be the makers of patronising programmes about them. Indeed I for one want to watch the fly on the wall documentary about the big move. Or perhaps they could have a competition in which the cities vie to be the new home of Channel 4. Provisional title: May the 4s Be With You

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