Channel 4 should make Salford its home | Letter

The television industry needs a counterweight to the pull of London, writes Wayne Garvie, president of international production at Sony Pictures Television

Matthew d’Ancona is spot on about the wider benefits to the UK that could come from the relocation of some of Channel 4 (Channel 4’s future lies in young, bullish Birmingham, 22 October). However, most of his arguments could equally be used for both Leeds and Salford, the other shortlisted cities, and his advocacy of Birmingham fails to recognise the realities of the British television industry and the problem of building sustainable careers outside of London.

What our industry needs is a counterweight to the pull of London in which young people (especially from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds, both of which are woefully underrepresented in production and broadcasting) can build sustainable careers without having to go to London.

A Channel 4 outpost in Birmingham will not resolve this issue. It will be one more regional centre with not enough critical mass, which is how we got into this situation in the first place, once the ITV companies consolidated in the 1990s. People will use it as a stepping stone from and back to London.

Salford – which already has a substantial BBC base across many programme genres, commissioning and production, a re-energised ITV Studios, brilliant international producers such as Red Production and world-class studio facilities at Dock 10 – is the only option that would create a sustainable base.

If Channel 4 becomes part of that landscape, we would finally have the possibility to offer people careers outside of London and be building a television industry that better reflects the experiences of most of the UK. Salford has to be the new home of Channel 4.
Wayne Garvie
President, International Production, Sony Pictures Television

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