The new Culture Secretary said she was looking at “other options to bring long-term sustainability” to Channel 4 while reviewing the Government’s plan to sell the broadcaster.
The decision to remove Channel 4 from public ownership was announced during the tenure of Nadine Dorries, the predecessor of Michelle Donelan, who spearheaded the controversial move during her time as prime minister to Boris Johnson.
Appearing at the first meeting of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee as Culture Secretary on Tuesday, Ms Donelan spoke about how she plans to approach the decision.
When asked if she would give up her plans to privatize Channel 4, she said: “When I take on this role, which I want to do, as someone with a lot of focus on evidence, is looking at the business case myself and I can see why there is concern around Channel 4 in the long run from a sustainability standpoint.
“And so, in addition to looking at the business case, specifically selling Channel 4, I have also looked at other options for bringing long-term sustainability to Channel 4 and we will announce our decision. about that in the near future.”
Ms Donelan said she would not announce any decisions but stressed that she was “an evidence-based politician” and had looked at the issue “comprehensively”.
She said she would discuss other options with Channel 4 to see how “workable” they are in securing the future of the broadcaster.
However, she said the Government doesn’t need the channel’s consent to sell it but will need their consent if they are going to pursue other options.
Channel 4, which celebrates its 40th birthday this year, was founded in 1982 by the Tory government of Margaret Thatcher and is entirely funded by advertising, in addition to public ownership.
The Culture Secretary said she feels Channel 4 is a “huge success story”, making £101m in profits in 2021 and said its All4 on-demand service is “comparable to Netflix and Amazon Prime”.
She added: “The issue has more to do with long-term potential because much of their business model is clearly based on linear advertising, so that’s the crux of the concern.
“But I have considered this. I’ll report back as soon as I can and add more but rest assured I’ve done this with a focus on evidence.”
Video of the day
Ms. Donelan, who was appointed by Liz Truss and remained in the position after Rishi Sunak became prime minister, had previously cast doubt on plans to privatize the broadcaster.
She said she was reviewing the “business case” to make sure “we still agree with that decision”.
When the Government announced plans earlier this year to take the channel out of public ownership, it said it was a way for the broadcaster to better survive in a media landscape dominated by Netflix and Amazon. .
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/culture-secretary-considering-options-while-reviewing-plans-to-sell-channel-4-42199738.html Culture Secretary considers ‘options’ while considering plans to sell Channel 4