Media Powerlist: Media companies “London Bias” ostracizes rest of UK

By Zoe Merry

London is a global business and multimedia hub. It is home to some of the most influential companies in the world. But is the concentration of wealth and opportunity decreasing the prosperity of the rest of the UK and what are major corporations doing about it?

New findings from a study carried out at Leeds Beckett University found that 28 of the top 32 media companies in the UK locate their headquarters in London.

Increasing globalisation and technological transformation has created booming business in London, which has no doubt attracted the major playing big companies.

‘87.5% of the major players surveyed maintain their business in London’

However, opportunities for graduates trying to break into the media industry are proving to be significantly smaller for people living in other regions.

Ostracizing the masses hugely decreases their ability to accurately present their own culture, political stance and achievements that aren’t being similarly represented in the capital city. Different regional accents are also heard few and far between on national TV and Radio stations.

The BBC’s key move from London to MediaCity in Salford in 2011 was a catalyst for change. In a statement the BBC claimed: “Twenty-five per cent of licence fee payers live in the North yet currently only 8% of network programmes are made in the region.”

‘we needed to move outside of London’

It claims that the move cost Β£200m but that the investment will hugely benefit the regional economy. In a statement it said only “46% of existing staff relocated from London” so lots of media related jobs opened up for local people.

The creation of this northern powerhouse has provided a small movement outside of London which could diversify opportunity.

The recent announcement that Channel 4 is following suit also provides hope for prosperity of media outside of the capital. Channel 4 executive Kate Clayton told LeedsHacks: “The government dictated that we needed to move outside of London due to more prominence needed in small nations and regions. Matt Hancock, the Secretary Of State pushed for this decision. We are moving a third of our London office out to Leeds.”

Similarly to the BBC, Channel 4 is a state owned enterprise and its remit is to the government. Pressure to migrate wealth out of the south has resulted in this shift in opportunity.

However, despite steps being made in an effort to broaden media opportunity across the nation, 87.5% of the major players surveyed still maintain their business in the capital city and are making no obvious indication that this is set to change.

Companies are attracted to the capital not only because of its longstanding flourishing media reputation. The city also attracts a talented workforce. According to The Telegraph, “58 per cent of London’s workforce is made up of graduates, compared with a national average of 38 per cent.”

Independent companies with more control over their decisions, unlike The BBC and Channel 4, are therefore significantly less inclined to delve into their own pockets to relocate for the good of others in the nation.

Talented young people from around the country are therefore increasingly likely to move out of their less prosperous country towns and take to the city, exasperating the problem.

It is hoped that media companies can continue to follow in the BBC’s footsteps and move away from the capital, broadening opportunity and conveying a more accurate picture of the country as a whole.


About the Author

This article was produced by a student or students on the BA in Journalism at Leeds Beckett University.

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