The government expects “a lot of interest from around the world” as it plans to sell Channel 4 to a private owner, a minister has said.
Culture Secretary Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay made the claim when scrutinized by peers over the decision to sell the public service broadcaster.
The minister was also told that announcing the plans while MPs are not sitting was an “appalling” move.
Isn’t he ashamed that this extraordinarily well-managed company is being treated in this way? A shabby decision appallingly taken while the House of Commons is at recessMr McNally
In the Lords, Labor colleague Lord Dubs asked: “If the Government insists on going ahead with this policy, then what safeguards will there be that a foreign company buys Channel 4 and there will be another of our main media outlets that people outside belongs to this country?”
Lord Parkinson replied: “Like the sale of government assets, the sale of Channel 4 would need to undergo a careful evaluation process to ensure value for money for the taxpayer.
“Further details on this will be set out in the white paper.”
He added: “We expect a lot of interest in Channel 4 from around the world.”
The minister previously said fellow Liberal Democrat Lord McNally Channel 4 would be an “attractive offer” given its success.
Lord McNally also urged the Secretary of State “to publish without delay the consultation that has been concluded over six months and has not yet seen the light of day at which the Foreign Secretary (Nadine Dorries) is said to be making this decision”.
He added: “Isn’t he ashamed that an exceptionally well run company is being treated like this? A shabby decision made in an appalling way while the House of Commons is at recess.”
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The risk of doing nothing is leaving Channel 4 to rely on linear advertisingLord Parkinson
Lord Parkinson replied: “The responses to the consultation will be published with the White Paper to which I alluded in my first response.
“I deeply disagree with the rest of his question. The Government holds Channel 4 in very high esteem and the role it plays and has played in our broadcasting ecosystem for the past 40 years.
“We want to ensure that the next 40 years and beyond are just as prosperous and prosperous.
“This is happening in a very rapidly changing and increasingly competitive media landscape.
“Channel 4 is uniquely constrained by its current ownership model and access to capital.”
Former Conservative Minister Lord Deben also rejected the government’s proposals.
He asked: “If a former voter came up to me in the street and said: ‘Lord Deben, in light of Covid, the disastrous Brexit, the European war, the cost of living crisis, why did the Government feel it was urgent to bring this? propose something for which there is no public demand and real opposition across the House?’”
Lord Parkinson said not all voters would “put it that way”, adding: “The risk of doing nothing is that Channel 4 remains dependent on linear advertising.
“Currently, 74% of its revenue comes from linear advertising, which is part of the rapidly changing broadcast landscape and seeks to compete with the likes of Netflix, which spent £9.2bn on original content in 2019, compared to £2.1bn from all UK public broadcasters.
“We want to ensure Channel 4 is ready for the future so it can continue to thrive and thrive.”
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/buyers-interested-in-channel-4-are-expected-from-around-the-world-says-minister-41523588.html Buyers interested in Channel 4 are expected from all over the world, says the minister