Nadine Dorries says the white paper will help broadcasters rule the airwaves.


Channel Four’s current ownership model faces “serious challenges” that are limiting its growth – and anyone who “chooses to ditch them” is “having their heads in the sand,” Culture Minister Nadine Dorries said.

Plans to privatize the channel were cemented with the government’s release of the broadcasting white paper, which also includes plans for Ofcom regulation for streaming services, the introduction of a new celebrity regime for on-demand television and more.

Ms Dorries said in her written statement to the Commons that while Channel Four “had more than met the initial objective of its establishment”, due to the changing broadcast environment, like “every other broadcaster now faces tremendous competition for audience share – and many of its Competitors have incredibly deep pockets.”

Channel Four, founded in 1982 by former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, has always been publicly owned and funded by advertising.

Previously, Ms Dorries said that while the channel holds a “cherished place in British life”, she felt public ownership prevented the channel from “competing against streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon”.

In her written statement, she said streaming services like Amazon Prime Video spent £779million on original productions in the UK in 2020, a figure she says is “double that of Channel Four”.

She continued: “While other PSBs (public broadcasters) like the BBC and Channel Five have the freedom to create and sell their own content, Channel Four does not have its own production studio and its ownership model restricts it from borrowing money or to raise private sector capital.

“It relies almost entirely on advertising revenue. That revenue was already rapidly shifting online. As seen last week, competition will only intensify after Netflix confirmed it intends to enter the advertising market.

“In our view, Channel Four’s growth opportunities under its current form of ownership are currently limited; with fewer opportunities to invest and compete. These are serious challenges, and anyone who rejects them is burying their heads in the sand.”

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These are serious challenges, and anyone who rejects them is burying their heads in the sandNadine Dorries

Opposition to privatization has been widespread since the move was announced, with a number of Tory MPs and colleagues questioning the plans.

Lucy Powell, Labour’s shadow culture secretary, also spoke out against the plans, saying: “The sale of Channel Four in the middle of a livelihood crisis will have voters scratching their heads at how this will help pay their bills.

“It will likely mean less British-produced programming for British audiences and less support for British jobs across the country.”

Ms Dorries said she wants “Channel Four’s next chapter to be one where it goes beyond what it’s already done regionally and plays a major role in improving our creative industries”.

She called the television and radio industry the “envy of the world” and concluded: “Today we are giving UK broadcasters the backing and support they need to dominate the airwaves for years to come.”

https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/nadine-dorries-says-white-paper-will-help-broadcasters-rule-airwaves-41596904.html Nadine Dorries says the white paper will help broadcasters rule the airwaves.

Fry Electronics Team

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