Channel 4 will not be privatised, government confirms

The government has confirmed that it will not be going ahead with its controversial plan to privatise Channel 4.

Former Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries proposed the plan after suggesting government ownership was “holding Channel 4 back” (via BBC News).

However, her successor Michelle Donelan has now insisted that the broadcaster “should not be sold”, instead proposing a series of other reforms.

The government had originally planned to sell the broadcaster – which it has owned since being set up in 1982 – for a possible £1.5billion. However, the proposal was faced with strong opposition from Channel 4 executives and other figures within the TV industry.

Donelan decided against the proposal “after reviewing the business case and engaging with the relevant sectors”.

One of her alternative reforms will allow broadcasters to make and own the rights to some of its own programmes – many of which are currently made by independent production companies. The Culture Secretary has also proposed to move more jobs outside of London.

Michelle Donelan MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, leaves Downing Street on September 6, 2022. CREDIT: Rob Pinney/Getty Images

“This announcement will bring huge opportunities across the UK with Channel 4’s commitment to double their skills investment to £10m and double the number of jobs outside of London,” said Donelan.

“The package will also safeguard the future of our world leading independent production sector. We will work closely with them to add new protections such as increasing the amount of content C4C [Channel 4 Corporation] must commission from independent producers.”

Responding to the news that the privatisation would not go ahead, Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon said: “The principle of public ownership for Channel 4 is now set for the foreseeable future, a decision which allows us to be even more of a power in the digital world.

“Channel 4 is innovative, editorially brilliant and loved by audiences that others don’t reach, most of all the young and underrepresented. In the analogue world, we did this spectacularly. Now, in the digital era, we are doing it again.”

The news comes a day after a letter, in which Donelan told Prime Minister Rishi Sunak that Channel 4 should not be privatised, was leaked to the press.


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