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Channel 4

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 11:00 am on 19th July 2016.

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Photo of Graham Jones Graham Jones Labour, Hyndburn 11:00 am, 19th July 2016

I could not agree more with my hon. Friend about standing up for democracy and for minorities against those at the top. That is an issue that we are both going through at the moment, in that we must have that conversation and support those within a pluralistic environment who wish to express a minority view. Of course, I am referring not only to Westminster and to the broadcasting ecology but to my own party. We must support pluralism, and Channel 4 does that. As mentioned by Justin Tomlinson, the Paralympic games this summer is a fantastic example of just what Channel 4 achieves; 66% of the on-screen talent and 15% of the production team will be people with disabilities. The coverage will be more accessible than ever for disabled viewers, and Channel 4 has even set aside £1 million to encourage advertisers to make their commercial airtime more inclusive of people with disabilities.

Channel 4’s success in representing people across the UK is no more evident than in its engagement with regional talent. Apart from the BBC, it is the only broadcaster with a specific commitment to invest in production outside England. Indeed, in the past five years Channel 4 has invested £720 million in content outside London. Last year alone saw Channel 4 spending £149 million on production in the nations and regions and broadcasting over 50% of its hours from those areas. It runs a dedicated nations and regions team in Glasgow and operates a growing sales team in Manchester, and it works with a range of production companies across the north of England and Scotland. Channel 4’s direct investment in those areas is equally impressive. From the Northern Writers’ Awards and its creation of regional hubs to its funding of the Leeds-based company True North, Channel 4 is at the forefront of promoting regional talent.