Channel 4 To Be Privatised And Sold As Public Ownership
Channel 4 was founded in 1982 and is publicly owned while being funded by advertising; in recent news, it has been announced that the government has decided to privatise Channel 4 as “ministers believed public ownership was holding the broadcaster back in the face of a rapidly changing media landscape”. Channel 4 themselves have called this “disappointing” that the ministers made their decision despite “significant public interest concerns” over privatisation. Read on for further details.
“Channel 4, founded by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government in 1982 to deliver programmes for under-served audiences, is funded by advertising but is publicly owned.” It has been reported that plans for the sale will be included in the Queen’s Speech in May. According to the BBC News, money made from the sale will be reinvested in a “creative dividend” to be shared among the TV industry, with some going towards independent production companies.
Nadine Dorries, the Culture Secretary, said, “Channel 4 rightly holds a cherished place in British life and I want that to remain the case. I have come to the conclusion that government ownership is holding Channel 4 back from competing against streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon. A change of ownership will give Channel 4 the tools and freedom to flourish and thrive as a public service broadcaster long into the future. I will seek to reinvest the proceeds of the sale into levelling up the creative sector, putting money into independent production and creative skills in priority parts of the country – delivering a creative dividend for all.”
A spokesperson for Channel 4 said they were “disappointed” by the decision but would “continue to engage” with the government on the process to “ensure that Channel 4 continues to play its unique part in Britain’s creative ecology and national life”.
Lucy Powell, Labour’s shadow culture secretary, said, “Selling off Channel 4, which doesn’t cost the taxpayer a penny anyway, to what is likely to be a foreign company, is cultural vandalism.”
Jeremy Hunt, former health secretary, also criticised this decision by saying, “I’m not in favour of it because I think that as it stands, Channel 4 provides competition to the BBC on what’s called public service broadcasting, the kinds of programmes that are not commercially viable – and I think it’d be a shame to lose that.”