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MU Speaks to M Magazine Ahead of Proposed Channel 4 Privatisation

The MU’s Assistant General Secretary Phil Kear spoke to PRS’ M magazine about concerns for future payments and changing working practices.

Published: 13 May 2022 | 4:22 PM Updated: 13 May 2022 | 4:53 PM
Collection of 6 retro style microphones on a desk with a sky blue back drop.
"Music is the first thing that goes in my experience of programme making”. Image credit: Shutterstock.

M Magazine is the magazine for PRS for music, and its recent feature on the proposed privatisation of Channel 4 explores what the government’s proposed plans could mean for the musicians and composers that soundtrack its shows.

It states that although there is likely to be some UK-based interested parties, many “fear the channel will be bought by an international media company with less interest in harnessing British creativity”.

There is significant concern for future payments

As well as Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries and other successful media composers, the MU’s Assistant General Secretary Phil Kear was also interviewed in connection with the Ivors Academy and MU’s Composers Against Buyouts campaign.

He commented:

“'If [the buyer] was a US company, the work-for-hire and buyout system is pretty entrenched over there. There is significant concern for future payments and changing working practices”.

In response to the fact that Channel 4 currently commissions independent production companies, many in regions outside London (and in turn hire composers for the show’s music), he stated:

“A big proportion of that is for employing our members to compose and record music for programmes. But under the proposed privatisation, you’re going to have shareholders taking a significant chunk of that money out of the ecosystem, and that’s going to mean less money for making programmes.

“That means either fewer programmes being made, more repeats, cheaper imported shows or lower production budgets. And music is the first thing that goes in my experience of programme making…”.

MU in action

In April we announced our concerns regarding the Government’s plans to privatise Channel 4 and remain focused on challenging this proposal wherever possible.

As previously reported, Channel 4 does not cost UK taxpayers a single penny since its income comes from advertising. It has directly invested £12bn into the production sector, creating over £992m GVA per year, and supporting over 10,600 jobs in the media supply chain.

The negative outlook predicted for Channel 4 may also be an indication as to how the government views public broadcasting ahead of decisions about BBC funding. The news of a license fee freeze and potential abolishment is likely to have a direct impact on musicians jobs, pay and conditions.

The BBC is the biggest employer and engager of musicians in the UK; it issues tens of thousands of contracts annually and its output is unique. Together as a Union however we can make a difference. Help show your support and protect musicians jobs, pay and conditions in the MU's 'Protect Our BBC' hub today. 


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