Channel 4 appoints GPC for public affairs

Channel 4 has hired GPC as its retained public affairs consultancy.

Channel 4 has hired GPC as its retained public affairs


The win follows a competitive pitch against Hill and Knowlton, which had

held the channel’s public affairs account for more than five years.

The account will be led by corporate policy director James Gurling and

David Sowells, the former head of public affairs at Turner Broadcasting

who joined GPC at the start of the year to launch the agency’s media

industries practice.

The account team at GPC will report to Channel 4’s head of corporate

relations and former adviser to culture secretary Chris Smith, John

Newbigin, and deputy corporate relations head Martin Stott. The review

of the relationship with H&K is thought to have begun shortly after

Newbigin’s arrival in January.

The brief includes monitoring and strategic advice ahead of the

publication later this year of a White Paper on broadcasting by the

Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Culture, Media

and Sport. The paper is being produced in anticipation of further

legislation after the expected general election next year.

GPC will work closely with the Channel 4 public affairs team during the

party conference season this autumn.

Channel 4 faces persistent rumours that the Chancellor Gordon Brown and

the Treasury are keen to privatise the independent broadcaster. It is

thought this could raise up to pounds 2 billion for the Government.

The board is against this idea, believing it will impact on the

channel’s ability to fulfil its public service obligations.

Gurling, who ran the pitch for GPC, advised Channel 4 during its

successful campaign to abolish the funding formula in the early-1990s.

Until this point Channel 4 could not earn its own advertising revenue

but was funded by contributions from the ITV companies.

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