IPA—written evidence (FCF0044)


House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee inquiry into the future of Channel 4




The IPA is the professional body for advertising, media and marketing communications agencies based in the United Kingdom. We have approximately 300 agency brands within our membership. Our member agencies include those planning and buying the vast majority of UK TV advertising spend on behalf of their advertiser clients.


As a membership body incorporated by Royal Charter, the IPA’s role is two-fold: (i) to provide essential core support services to our corporate members who are key players in the industry; and (ii) to act as our members spokesperson.


Further, under one the main terms of its Chartered Status,[1] it is the IPAs duty to advance the theory and practice of advertising, media and marketing communications in all its aspects for the benefit of the public.


Advertising is fundamental to the UK economy. It plays a crucial role in brand competition, drives product innovation and fuels economic growth. It also provides revenues to fund a diverse and pluralistic media, enjoyed by all.


Every pound spent on advertising returns £6 to GDP, supporting 1 million jobs across the UK.



The IPA submission


As a key member of the Advertising Association, the IPA has contributed to and approved their comprehensive response to this consultation on behalf of the entire advertising industry.


This concise submission is complimentary and seeks to further reinforce our firm support for the ongoing public ownership of Channel 4


Committee Inquiry Questions


  1. What, if any, developments over the last five years give cause to re-evaluate the ownership of Channel 4 Corporation?


There have been no developments over the last five years to give cause to re-evaluate the ownership of Channel 4 Corporation. It has proven itself a successful, innovative organisation over the last 5 years, and is well-placed to tackle future developments.







  1. If Channel 4 Corporation were privatised, what would be the benefits? What would be the risks and to what extent could they be mitigated?


We do not foresee any benefit to advertisers and their agencies from the privatisation of C4C. It has proven itself a successful, innovative organisation over the last 5 years, and is well-placed to tackle future developments.


We consider the risk to the UK Commercial TV Marketplace to be great.






  1. If Channel 4 were to remain in public ownership, what would be the benefits? Insofar as they are valid, how could concerns about its longer-term viability be addressed?




The Channel 4 portfolio of channels delivers unique reach of light[7] and young viewers versus the rest of the linear TV landscape.


This is invaluable to many British companies selling products and services, and their advertising agencies seeking to maximise reach and build brands.


It is a direct result of Channel 4’s unique advertiser-funded PSB remit delivering hard-to-reach commercial audiences from investment in purpose-driven content and programming.


Light TV viewers


Channel 4 provides unique access to young audiences


Channel 4 provides unique access to diverse and under-represented audiences



Channel 4 provides content and reach to advertisers to support and champion under-represented audiences and is unique in its continued commitment to do so. Some examples:







We do not consider concerns about its long term viability to be valid.



22 September 2021





[1]              https://ipa.co.uk/media/4712/ipa_royal_charter_bye_laws.pdf

[2]              https://annualreport.channel4.com/assets/pdf/Financial_report_and_statements_ Channel4_AR20_ACC.pdf

[3]              https://www.channel4.com/press/news/channel-4-annual-report-2020-record-financial-surplus-and-significant-digital-growth 

[4]              https://annualreport.channel4.com/assets/pdf/Financial_report_and_ statements_Channel4_AR20_ACC.pdf

[5]              https://annualreport.channel4.com/assets/pdf/Financial_report_and_ statements_Channel4_AR20_ACC.pdf

[6]              https://www.endersanalysis.com/reports/channel-4-privatisation-valuation-buyers-problems 

[7]              Light TV viewers created using March – April 2021 BARB data. The lightest 25% of viewers based on minutes viewed.

[8]              Commercial TV is defined as BARB reported channels coded as carrying commercials

[9]              https://www.dove.com/uk/stories/real-beauty-network/hair-power.html 

[10]              https://www.4sales.com/our-work/superhumans-wanted