Search

Channel 4 faces privatisation

Channel 4

In a series of tweets on Monday, Nadine Dorries, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, indicated that she will produce a White Paper for the privatisation of Channel 4. In the tweets she indicated that the proceeds of the sale will be used in “levelling up” the creative sector.

Channel 4 was created in 1982 to be a publicly owned broadcaster funded commercially with the vast majority of Channel 4’s income coming from advertisement. As a non-profit any surplus made is reinvested into programming. Channel 4 receives no government money or income from the licence fee.

Channel 4 remit

Channel 4 has a complex legal remit; it is required to commission its shows, not make them in-house. It is to ensure much of its programming comes from outside of London and make educational programming. This will make the terms of the sale important for the price the Government will be able to demand as well as the nature of British television in the future.

Concerns have been raised over the continuation of Channel 4 news, which is widely seen to be an unprofitable, and so a commercially driven owner may wish to scale down or cancel. Krishnan Guru-Murthy, a long-time presenter on Channel 4 news tweeted: “For clarity as some facts are being muddled, Channel 4 is state owned but commercially funded by ads and doesn’t get public money. A sell off requires MPs to vote for it. The editorial independence and funding of news can be ring fenced in a sale if govt wants (as sky news)”.

Until the White Paper is published it is unclear under what terms the Government will sell, potential buyers range from large American media conglomerates, streaming giants and ITV.

Backlash

Resistance to this move already seems to be building, along with opposition figures Conservatives such as Ruth Davidson, Damian Green and Tobias Ellwood all voicing their concern. Ruth Davidson in particular cites the investment in independent creative companies in places like Glasgow as a reason to keep Channel 4 in public ownership.

Final thought

This is a complex situation with multiple forces, incentives and narratives coming together to produce this outcome. A historic Tory mistrust of public ownership, strained public finances and the changing media market have all played their part.

However it seems clear that this Government, particularly since the ascent of Boris Johnson and associated Brexit-leaning Ministers, is unhappy with the current state of the media in Britain. Some feel their view of Brexit was not given it’s due in the media and others are now looking to cement their victory and advance on the fronts of new culture wars. Nadine Dorries certainly fits this mould.

In an embarrassing exchange with Damian Green at a Select Committee last year, she appeared unclear on how Channel 4 was funded but be in no doubt what she lacks in clarity on her brief she makes up for in clarity on her opponents. This is a Government that has an opinion on the British media establishment and will take opportunities to change it.

Share

Related Topics

Latest

Plans for Diagnostics: NHS Screenings and Sunak’s Agenda

As long waiting lists for the NHS continue to persist, and people receiving diagnoses in adequate time has not reached its target, Sunak ventured on a campaign trail yesterday to trumpet new measures aimed at promoting timely diagnostics. This was to help ensure he can meet one of his top five priorities: cutting NHS waiting lists.

Hunt’s Bold Vision for the Economy

Hunt primarily proposed his bold vision for the economy and highlighted the value of investing in life sciences and the NHS especially during its time of crisis.

Video Features

Does Democracy Require Proportional Representation?

Marking LGBT+ History Month 2024

How Can We Make the UK the Greatest Place to Grow Old?

Why Should Women Stand for Office?

Subscribe to our newsletter for your free digital copy of the journal!

Receive our latest insights, future journals as soon as they are published and get invited to our exclusive events and webinars.

Newsletter Signups
?
?

We respect your privacy and will not share your email address with any third party. Your personal data will be collected and handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Never miss an issue by subcribing to our newsletter!

Receive our latest insights and all future journals as soon as they are published and get invited to our exclusive events and webinars.

Newsletter Signups
?
?

We respect your privacy and will not share your email address with any third party. Your personal data will be collected and handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Never miss an issue by subcribing to our newsletter!

Receive our latest insights and all future journals as soon as they are published and get invited to our exclusive events and webinars.

Newsletter Signups
?
?

We respect your privacy and will not share your email address with any third party. Your personal data will be collected and handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Newsletter Signup

Receive our latest insights as soon as they are published and get invited to our exclusive events and webinars.

Newsletter Signups
?
?

We respect your privacy and will not share your email address with any third party. Your personal data will be collected and handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.