Media: Rob Brown

If the chief executive of Channel 4 is serious about finding radical alternatives to ITN, he should produce his flagship evening bulletin outside London. Nothing could be more radical than ending the metropolitan stranglehold on broadcast news in Britain.

I saw Jon Snow recently at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival. I hope he liked what he saw of Sheffield; if it were up to me, the chief anchor of Channel 4 News would be spending a lot of time in that former steel town, or somewhere similarly gritty and northern.

Michael Jackson, Channel 4's chief executive, has challenged independent producers to come up with a radical alternative to the service that has been supplied for the last 15 years by ITN. If he means what he says, Mr Jackson should set his mind to making his flagship evening bulletin the first national news programme to be produced outside London. Nothing could be more radical than ending the metropolitan stranglehold on broadcast news in Britain.

If that means ditching ITN, so be it. It is pretty preposterous for one company to supply news to all terrestrial commercial channels in this country, namely Channels 3, 4 and 5. Pluralism and diversity demand that editorial control is shifted away from that glitzy glass building in Grays Inn Road.

It certainly shouldn't be shifted just a few miles westwards to BSkyB's headquarters at Osterley. Sky News is obviously keen on sharing costs. But, as a public service broadcaster, Channel 4 should, as a matter of principle, have absolutely nothing to do with the chief enemy of public service broadcasting in Britain: the Murdoch empire.

Instead, Michael Jackson should draw inspiration from Mr Murdoch's arch- enemy, Ted Turner. The founder of CNN has painstakingly built the world's fastest and most profitable global news machine from a base in Atlanta, Georgia.

America's broadcast news establishment, huddled together in the media capital of New York, laughed at first. CNN, they superciliously scoffed, stood for "Chicken Noodle News".

But, as he showed on his visit to London last week with his glamorous wife, Jane Fonda, Ted Turner is having the last laugh, and it's a long one. As he told a lunch-time audience at the Reform Club in Pall Mall, he is donating $1bn to the United Nations because he has so much money that he could never spend it in his lifetime.

Now America's largest private landowner, Mr Turner was able to make the biggest single gift to charity in history because, some time back, he had a marvellous entrepreneurial insight. He realised that, in an age of dishes and digits, geography is history. Satellite technology has made it possible for a global news machine to be located in Atlanta, or anywhere else.

So, there are absolutely no technological obstacles to Channel 4 News relocating its studios to Sheffield or Liverpool or Glasgow. Of course, there would be an outcry from the London broadcast news establishment. Like their American counterparts, they'd probably think up some snide sobriquet for such a show. They'd call it "News from t'North" if it came from Yorkshire, or "Black Pudding Bulletins" if it came from Lancashire.

But a national news programme produced from beyond the M25 would have a chance to do something that no news programme located in London has ever done: to reflect the rich diversity of the British Isles and provide a world view that is not filtered through a London lens.

It is all too easy to forget something that London newsdesks constantly forget: 80 per cent of the UK population lives outside London, and almost as big a percentage deeply resents the way wealth and power in Britain, the most centralised state in western Europe, is concentrated in south- east England.

Surely Michael Jackson, who was raised in Macclesfield, has not been supping in the mediapolis for so long that he has forgotten this fundamental fact about contemporary Britain. There are signs that he himself has not succumbed to metropolitan myopia. One of his first acts on taking office was to establish an office in Glasgow to drum up more programming from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Cynics suggest that Stuart Cosgrove was cast out to the Celtic Fringe as part of the Jacksonian purge. There may be some truth in this. But there's no denying that Michael Jackson did more to decentralise C4 in his first nine weeks than his predecessor Michael Grade did in nine years.

And he's clearly intent on doing more. It has just been announced that the tender to produce Channel 4's new flagship politics programme - the successor to A Week in Politics - has just been awarded to Ray Fitzwalter Associates in Manchester, which will produce the show from a studio in that city. The programme will pull in reports from journalists in a number of UK cities.

This model should now be extended to the new Channel 4 News. As Bernard Clark, head of Clark Productions (the company that makes Dispatches for Channel 4) pointed out in this paper last week, there are a thousand independent producers dotted around the UK, many run by experienced news and current affairs hands such as Ray Fitzwalter, a former producer of World in Action.

As it celebrates its 15th anniversary, Channel 4 should place its faith in the companies that have supplied its creative life force from day one and grown into maturity with it - the indies.

If he dares to up anchor, Jon Snow will soon find that he has many friends in the north.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Voices
Ed Miliband and David Cameron are neck and neck in the polls
election 2015Armando Iannucci: on how British politics is broken
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

    £13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

    £18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

    Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

    £20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power