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Glasgow wins Channel 4 creative hub role

November 1 2018

Glasgow wins Channel 4 creative hub role

Glasgow is to play host to a new Channel 4 creative hub after the city won the consolation prize alongside Bristol, after Leeds secured the stations National HQ.

No physical location has been chosen as yet for the hub, which is expected to bring around 50 jobs to the city and provide fresh impetus to the independent production sector, which has developed a strong presence around Pacific Quay.

A Channel 4 spokesperson remarked: “Further detailed work will now continue to identify locations and property within the national HQ and creative hub locations. It is envisaged that staff will begin to move to the new locations in H2 2019.”

A major reorganisation of the channel has been orchestrated to break free from London and better represent the UK as a whole.

Leeds looks set to become the single biggest beneficiary however with around 300 staff expected to be moved to the city.


Fat Bloke on Tour
#1 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 2 Nov 2018 at 12:29 PM
While every little helps we need the local broadcasters to step up to the plate and produce local drama.

STV has given up -- it is a hologram of a media company hiding behind a neon sign.

Where is the pathway to a local industry?
Play to radio to TV to film?

We are drowning under a tsunami of proposals, white papers, government commissions and pipe dreams while the only concrete progress has been provided by a ex PCB factory out in the boondocks that has actually done something not just talked about it.

Hopefully C4 will shame BBC Shortbread and STV into some sort of action.
jimbob tanktop
#2 Posted by jimbob tanktop on 2 Nov 2018 at 15:08 PM
This is how the broadcasting/ theatre industry in Scotland works.

1.BBC - raises circa £380m in licence fees in Scotland, and 'returns' about £100m, which is then spent on 'programming' - essentially keeping Pacific Quat afloat and underpaying for football coverage, with some cheaply-produced, broad sitcoms like Still Game and Mrs Brown's Boys thrown in. River City is often written by secretaries at the direction of the show's producer, chronically underfunded and woefully planned.

The rest of the cash is either held by London or spent on 'BBC Scotland' productions, which are usually made elsewhere - basically London - with crew, cast and writers sourced from elsewhere but white-labelled as 'BBC Scotland' for appearances' sake. Argue that for this massive contribution, Scotland receives all original BBC programming. This is true. So does Ireland, and they only pay around 10m Euros a year.

They are also about to launch a new channel, 'BBC Scotland'. This will have an annual budget of £30m. For context, that's to staff an entire network for a year, produce programmes covering current affairs, culture, drama, comedy and sport. For less than it costs to make 3 episodes of Netflix's The Crown.

2.Sky. Raises approximately £1.2 billion in revenue from Scotland. Spends...effectively nothing. Pays around one third of the market rate for Scottish football in comparison to similar countries such as Norway, Denmark or Austria because they need the cash for the EPL. Zero original programming in Scotland.

3. STV - constitutionally forced to broadcast the ITV spectrum. Every time they opt out to show their own programmes, they have to pay a 'compensation fee' to ITV, which can run into the hundreds of thousands each time. That, added to the budget for an original programme, makes it wholly uneconomic. They do make original programmes, often for the BBC, but very few, if any of these are set in Scotland as the BBC seems to have an aversion to showing programmes made in Scotland. As do ITV.

4. C4 - UK Government-owned but once relieved of their original remit to show programmes that reflected minority interests, went down the route of reality TV, buying-a-home-abroad and get-yer-yayas-out shock TV. Some of these are made by Scottish companies. No-one remembers them 15 minutes after watching. Almost a pastiche as opposed to a channel nowadays, C4 News apart.

5. Netflix/ Prime. Netflix have made a couple of Scottish movies, which stand comparison to anything else they've produced thus far, ie, alright, but not fantastic. Outlaw King may change that, but early reports suggest not. Nonetheless, it's a start and offers Scottish writers, directors and actors the best hope of an indigenous industry.

Radio? Dismissed offhandedly by many independent producers of my acquaintance, referred to as utterly disorganised and a benefit lunch for the usual old faces. Radio Sh*tbread for shorthand.

Plays? The vast bulk of money in theatre goes to bureaucrats and administrators. The Tron, for example, produces 2 plays a year. The Traverse does more but others, such as Dundee Rep, the Lyceum and the Citizens seem content to regurgitate senescent plays that everyone who goes has seen twenty times before rather than invest in new writing. Working-class playwrights are plentiful. Commissioned working-class playwrights are rarer than rocking-horse sh*t. There is a culture of risk-avoidance and a terror of making anything that might offend. It's a subsidised ghetto for the middle classes and practically zero effort is made to engage with the wider community, beyond so-called 'outreach' programmes. Some decent marketing and the production of plays that people might actually want to watch is deemed unthinkable, as the existence of an audience could threaten everything.

The streaming channels are the way to go. BBC, C4, STV and Sky are dead men walking. Don't shed tears at their imminent funeral, because up until now broadcasting in Scotland hasn't so much been a business but a racket.
#3 Posted by Excellent on 2 Nov 2018 at 16:04 PM
Thanks JBTT, i enjoyed reading that informative and succinct summary.

Well, I thought, that's the political status of a colony for you.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#4 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 2 Nov 2018 at 16:10 PM
JBTT -- Why don't you come off that fence and tell us what you really think ...

The BBC Scotland -- white labelling as you call it -- does annoy as it seems that a number of existing programmes were transferred up north based on a PO box located in Gxx.

Streaming channels need an infrastructure and a eco-system that will generate ideas and produce programmes based on these ideas.

Lower production costs might get us started but it will not last.
#5 Posted by Excellent on 2 Nov 2018 at 16:39 PM
Mibbes you don't quite get the basic point there FBoT.
The elephant in the room here is (and i know its an architecture forum, so apologies, but hey ho) unless the Union is dissolved in the post-Brexit aftermath, then Scotland as a colony and its embryonic media will only ever get the crumbs (literally) off the Union table.
... and should that happen, what would become of C4's outpost then?
Yeh, I thought so.
#6 Posted by Cadmonkey on 5 Nov 2018 at 18:03 PM
Can you imagine a post-independence night in watching television.....
Take the High Road, Reporting Scotland, River City, The Adventure Show, The Beechgrove Garden, Eorpa, Gary Tank Commander, Words with Wark, SPL Highlights (in Gaelic).
(Repeat the following evening, and the next)

Can’t wait!
But you can only watch if it’s windy.

Long live the Union.
#7 Posted by Ape on 5 Nov 2018 at 18:29 PM
jimbob tanktop #2

I can't speak for your comments on TV industry but I don't agree with your representation of theatre. Oran Mor's Play, Pie and a Pint programme is a good way to see new writing on stage. Playwrights' Studio supports new writers. There's the newer Take Me Somewhere Festival in Glasgow plus National Theatre of Scotland, of course. In many ways Scottish theatre is more supportive than scenes of equivalent size elsewhere.

You seem to disregard the totality of the theatre's outreach programmes, which is unfair. Your comments bespeak bitterness rather than reflecting the actual situation.
#8 Posted by Excellent on 5 Nov 2018 at 21:02 PM
Dear Cadmonkey,

Brexit: What the nation really thinks. On C4 right now. The nation is stated as the UK by C4.
Not one politician from N. Ireland, Wales or Scotland. Nigel Farage manages a spot on the show. So the two nations that voted remain have no representation on the show that claims to tell us what the UK really thinks about Brexit.

Did you not get the memo? Your Union died in 2014. ;-)
jimbob tanktop
#9 Posted by jimbob tanktop on 6 Nov 2018 at 13:11 PM
#7 Ape
Play, Pie & A Pint used to be excellent, though the quality has declined markedly-understandably-since the passing of its founder and driving force, Dave MacLennan. Nonetheless, I deliberately omitted it from my original rant, as it's a fine example of a grassroots idea that became a mainstay. I've no doubt it will recapture its former glory once it opens itself to more new writing. Playwrights Studio does indeed offer excellent support for new writers but its budget is tiny and it can't stage productions, and my comments are aimed at those who can.

The NTS signalled the death of touring theatre companies in Scotland. It's no coincidence that all the former great names - Borderline, 7:84, Wildcat, Babel etc - all died soon after its formation as it swallowed budgets like a black hole. Those smaller companies knew the market well and took many risks, something a large, national body seems reluctant to do.

Once a year Scotland becomes the centre of the theatrical world and shows are performed in everything from shipping containers to pub back rooms to grand theatres but they all have one thing in common: the play is king, the venue immaterial. So what does Scottish theatre do to engage with audiences? Enact some of that spirit and take live theatre into venues such as shopping centres or high streets? No, it spends £20m on a building, ie, a refurbished Citz.

It's the same argument for a film studio: spend £250million on a palace. For that, you could make 100 well-funded independent films, most of which would lose money but some of which would most definitely hit home runs, but right now cultural policy seems motivated by the prospect of shiny buildings rather than the actual work.
jimbob tanktop
#10 Posted by jimbob tanktop on 6 Nov 2018 at 13:15 PM
#6 Cadmonkey
You do realise all of those admittedly terrible TV shows are the product of a broadcast industry restricted and robbed blind by the straitjacket of the union, don't you? The reason why they're so bad, incidentally, is because they have to be produced cheaply. No budget for rehearsals, tech or writing means poor quality. It's not hard o figure out the problem if you're willing to see it.

But you keep on enjoying Flog It! and Emmerdale, safe in the knowledge that such quality can only be made by our feudal masters.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#11 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 6 Nov 2018 at 13:46 PM
PP+P -- Where is the legacy?
Who got a start writing for it and where have all the pays gone?
has nothing made the jump into the mainstream?

Regarding our complete lack of progress with TV and film production -- we seem to try and blame everyone but ourselves. There is always someone over the hill who is responsible for our failure. Few want to look closer to home and question the local nomenclatura and well connected oxygen thieves who hoover up the money that is on offer.

The saga of the film studio explains everything in crayon and large letters -- publicly financed talking shop just took the fees and produced nothing but reports.
Neil C
#12 Posted by Neil C on 7 Nov 2018 at 11:05 AM
If you'll forgive me for mentioning something other than Scottish independence (controversial, I know), Pacific Quay would certainly benefit from another broadcaster arriving. In an ideal world, C4 would commission a standalone building for a compact gap site, demanding greater architectural merit than the BBC and STV HQs.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#13 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 7 Nov 2018 at 15:04 PM
It is one thing to be a price taker surely the plan must be to move up the value chain and become a price maker?

If all we can get at the moment is quota fillers then why is that -- is that all we can produce?

Interesting everything revolves around a hand out -- if that is low then all we can hope for is low quality filler.

Pebble in the pond time -- River City -- WTF?
Is its only income stream a public sector hand out?
Cannot it not be sold to others?
Is it just a deprivation fest to buff up a few caricatures?

The world is awash with soap operas jumping markets and demographics and our attempt is unwatchable in Clydebank?

Boot up the erse would be a good start.
Then we can move onto our film legacy ...

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