The UK government has announced it will proceed with plans to privatize Channel 4, the broadcaster said in a statement.
The channel is currently owned by the government and funded by advertising.
A Channel 4 spokesman said he was “disappointed” with the decision but would “continue to engage” with the government in the process to “ensure Channel 4 continues to play its unique role in the creative ecology and national life of the UK plays”.
The statement said: “With over 60,000 contributions to the government’s 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 increase society while preserving public property.
“Recently Channel 4 DCMS (the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) presented a viable alternative to privatisation, which would ensure its future financial stability and allow it to do significantly more for the UK public, creative industries and business do. especially outside of London.
“This is particularly important given that the organization has only been working intensively for two years to increase its impact in the countries and regions of the UK.”
The statement continued: “Channel 4 remains legally committed to its unique public service mission. The focus of the organization will be how we ensure we deliver on the mandate for both our viewers and the UK creative industries across the UK.
“The proposal to privatize Channel 4 will require a lengthy legislative process and political debate. We will of course continue to work with DCMS, Government and Parliament to do everything we can to ensure Channel 4 continues to play its unique role in the creative ecology and national life of the UK.”
The government has debated plans to privatize the channel, which was launched in 1982 to cater to underserved audiences after concerns about its survival in the streaming era.
A Government source said ministers believe the state ownership of Channel 4 “holds it back” and that privatizing the channel would “remove its straitjacket”.
The source said: “HMG is expected to seek a sale of C4 as part of a package of reforms to modernize and sustain the UK public service broadcasting sector.
“Following consultation, ministers have decided that while C4 is currently performing well as a company, state ownership is holding it back in the face of a rapidly changing and highly competitive media landscape.
“C4 is a great company with a strong brand built on being creative, innovative and distinctive, but a change Property will lift its straitjacket and give C4 the freedom to innovate and grow so it can thrive and thrive long into the future and support the whole of the UK creative industry.”
They said ministers will seek to reinvest proceeds from the sale and plan to channel the money into independent production and “enhance broader creative skills in priority parts of the country.”
It added that Channel 4 will remain a public service broadcaster and the Government will ensure it “continues to make an important social, economic and cultural contribution to the UK”.
Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon has previously questioned the “logic” behind such a move and whether privatizing the channel would help efforts to “rise” outside of London.
In an internal email to staff on Monday, Ms Mahon said her priority was “to look after you all and the wonderful spirit of Channel 4” following the announcement.
She said: “In our collaboration with the Government during their extended period of reflection, we have proposed a vision for the next 40 years which we are confident will allow us to build on the achievements of the first 40 years.
“Rooted in continued public ownership, this vision built on the tremendous public value this model has delivered to date and the opportunity to deliver so much more in the future.
“But ultimately it is up to the government to propose ownership of C4 and Parliament to decide.
“Our job is to carry out Parliament’s work and if that changes then I am confident that this incredible organization will respond with the unrelenting energy it has always shown in pursuing its goals and mission.
“My priority now, along with the rest of the Exec team, is to look after you all and the wonderful spirit of Channel 4 and to ensure we all continue to do what we do best – amazing shows for our audiences and create opportunities for young people and support the creative industries across the UK.
“There will now be a long process ahead – it could take 18 months or more for the necessary legislation to go through the House of Commons and then the Lords. During this time we will continue to work with DCMS and the Government, as well as with our supporters across the industry, to make the case to ensure Channel 4 can continue to deliver on its mission.”
https://www.independent.ie/business/media/disappointment-as-boris-johnsons-government-to-press-ahead-with-plans-to-privatise-state-owned-channel-4-41520684.html “Disappointment” as Boris Johnson’s government moves forward with plans to privatize state broadcaster Channel 4