Channel 4 ‘disappointed’ as government proceeds with privatization plans

Channel 4 said it was “disappointed” with the government’s decision to proceed with plans to privatize the channel without “formally acknowledging the significant public interest concerns that have been raised”.

The government, which currently owns the channel, has been deliberating on whether to privatize the station amid concerns about its survival in the streaming age.

A statement from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said it made the decision to allow the channel “to thrive in the face of a rapidly changing media landscape,” while a government source said the move would “cut the straitjacket of Remove Channel 4”.

A Channel 4 statement said: “With over 60,000 contributions to the government public consultation, it is disappointing that today’s announcement has been made without formally acknowledging the significant public interest concerns that have been raised.

“Channel 4 has worked in good faith with the Government throughout the consultation process and demonstrated how it can continue to commission popular programs from the independent sector across the UK, representing and celebrating every aspect of British life, and its contribution to it raise society while preserving public property.”

The channel explained that it is presenting the government with an alternative to privatization that would “ensure its future financial stability” and allow it to do more for the public, creative industries and the economy.

The channel’s executive director, Alex Mahon, said in an internal email to staff on Monday that they had proposed a “vision for the next 40 years” based on “continued public ownership” and “the tremendous public value build this model”. has delivered so far and the possibility of delivering much more in the future”.

However, she added that ultimate ownership of the channel rested with “Government to propose and Parliament to decide” and that her priority now was “to look after you all and the wonderful spirit of Channel 4”.

The broadcaster said it will continue to work with the government throughout the legislative process and plans to do everything it can to “ensure Channel 4 continues to play its unique role in the creative ecology and national life of Britain”.

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The Government has yet to set a price tag, but reports suggest the channel could be sold for up to £1billion in a process that could take several months, with proposals having to go through both the House of Commons and Lords.

Channel 4 was established in 1982 to cater to underserved audiences and is currently advertising funded.


Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon (Yui Mok/PA)

In a statement, a DCMS spokesman said: “Following extensive consultation on the future ownership of Channel 4, the Culture Secretary has taken a decision and is now consulting with fellow Cabinet members.

“We want Channel 4 to thrive and thrive in a rapidly changing media landscape. It holds a valued place in our broadcasting landscape and we want it to stay that way.

“We have outlined our preferred option for a change of ownership to give the company new freedoms to innovate and grow while continuing to make a significant economic, social and cultural contribution to the UK. We will announce further details shortly.”

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries tweeted that she wanted the channel to remain a “cherished place in British life” but felt state ownership “prevents Channel 4 from competing against streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon “.

She added, “I will seek to reinvest proceeds from sales to improve the creative sector, directing money towards independent production and creative skills in priority parts of the country – and delivering a creative dividend for all.”

Other ministers were less supportive of the announcement, with Tory MP Sir Peter Bottomley saying he was opposed to privatization as he felt it would be “bad for television diversity, bad for viewers and bad for independent producers”. may be.

Lucy Powell, Labor shadow culture secretary, described the move as “cultural vandalism”.

She said: “The sale of Channel 4, which doesn’t cost taxpayers a dime anyway, to what is likely a foreign company is cultural vandalism. It will cost jobs and opportunities in the North and Yorkshire, and hit across the UK creative economy.

“It shows that the Conservatives have run out of ideas and the path. Of all the issues the public wants action on, Channel 4’s governance is not one.

“Government should be laser focused on the cost of living crisis and helping people with their bills, not fumbling around for ideological reasons.”

John McVay, chief executive of trade body Pact – which represents UK independent production companies, added that he felt the channel’s privatization was “unnecessary” and risked damaging the UK television and film production industry.

He explained: “Unlike other broadcasters, it does not produce any of its programming in-house – but a private owner could outsource production away from independent producers to save costs, which would impact the entire industry.

“A sale now risks reducing opportunities for independent producers and reducing the amount of program commissioned outside London – a down-level, not an up-level. It’s not too late for the government to think again.”

Philippa Childs, Chair of the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theater Union, called the move a “short-sighted sale of an incredible British asset”.

She added: “This cynical move puts the interests of shareholders ahead of public service and ignores countless responses to government consultation and fierce industry opposition.

“The Government is yet to produce evidence that a change in ownership would benefit both Channel 4 and the public.

“Bectu condemns this short-sighted and destructive move which is dealing a serious blow to the UK creative sector, creative industries and UK freelance jobs. With the creative industries being hardest hit by the pandemic and continuing to face chronic skills shortages, there is no worse time to introduce such uncertainties, especially for independent producers.” Channel 4 ‘disappointed’ as government proceeds with privatization plans

Fry Electronics Team

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