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
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.