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Channel 4 announces measures to improve engagement with indies and speed up commissioning process

Category: News Release

Broadcaster appoints Rebecca Thompson to newly created Head of Indies role

Appointment comes as Channel 4’s latest indie survey shows improvement in experience of producers working with the channel

Channel 4 has today announced measures aimed at making it a better creative partner for indies.

Steps include the appointment of Rebecca Thompson to a newly created role as Head of Indie Relations.

The broadcaster has also announced that evaluations will be made of how it deals with indies, including its commissioning process, with a view to speeding up decision-making and improving communication with producers.

The results of Channel 4’s latest annual Indie Survey of nearly 200 independent production companies – a survey undertaken to identify issues faced by the indie production community - has revealed significant improvements in their experiences of dealing with Channel 4.

Today Chief Content Officer Ian Katz announced the appointment of Rebecca Thompson as Head of Indie Relations, a new role which will focus on improving producers’ experience of working with the channel. Rebecca’s role will help develop and maintain Channel 4’s relationships with indies, support the drive to commission more from the Nations and Regions and manage the Emerging Indie Fund. Rebecca will report into Director of Commissioning Operations, Emma Hardy.

Emma said: “I’m really pleased that the results of our Indie Survey show we are moving in the right direction, even during an incredibly tough year with the additional challenges presented by the Covid pandemic.

“But we need to continue in this vein and keep improving the efficiency of our commissioning process and the appointment of Rebecca as our Head of Indie Relations will go a long way to helping us achieve this.”

An annual survey of independent production companies was introduced so Channel 4 can identify potential issues faced by indies when dealing with the broadcaster.

The latest survey showed that indies generally had found it better to deal with Channel 4 than when they were last surveyed in late-2019. But it also identified three key areas where more work is needed: more streamlined communications; more clarity on creative vision; and speed of response.

The online survey, hosted by YouGov in March, invited production companies across the UK to give their view on what it’s like working with Channel 4 in terms of developing an idea through to the final editorial decision. One person from each company - usually the CEO, MD or Creative Director - responded to the survey which attracted responses from 190 companies compared to 140 in 2019.

The results showed that although issues such as securing a follow-up meeting had greatly improved, getting speedy final decisions on a commission remains a priority.

The survey also showed a desire for clearer steers in terms of what programme ideas Channel 4 is seeking and a communication process which gives more consolidated feedback on programme pitches. 

Rebecca will be at the forefront of the broadcaster’s drive to further enhance its dealings with suppliers. Based in Glasgow, Rebecca joins Channel 4 from leading FOCUS, a project offering business development opportunities for film and TV companies in Scotland.

Rebecca said: “This new role is a real statement of intent by Channel 4 to ensure the best possible experience for indies, and I’m delighted to be part of that. I look forward to working with commissioners and indies to build on recent improvements, and help the channel create strong relationships with a diverse network of established and emerging indies across the UK.”

Rebecca’s previous roles include founding and running both Hot Tap Media, a digital production company, and Social Screen. She was previously a digital producer at KEO Films and a Commissioning Editor at Channel 4. She will take up her position as Head of Indie Relations later this month.