Government plans consultation on sale of Channel 4 

Alistair Hardaker's picture
by Alistair Hardaker

The government has announced plans to consult on the sale of Channel 4. 

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport said it believes a move into private ownership could “allow it to access new capital, create strategic partnerships, and reach international markets only available through the private sector.”It cites streaming technology as a major threat to the broadcasting landscape. 

At present the channel is entirely commercially funded, but it has been publicly-owned since it began broadcasting in 1982.

On the review of Channel 4’s ownership model and remit, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport said this morning that private ownership “could allow it to access new capital, create strategic partnerships, and reach international markets only available through the private sector.” 

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden has previously stated that he wanted to privatise the broadcaster by the end of the current parliament, to provide it with “a sustainable future.” Writing in The Times this morning, Dowden said he plans to bring forward a white paper on the future of broadcasting in autumn. 

The news comes just a day after Channel 4 released its annual report, in which it showed a record financial surplus of £74 million at year end, and revenue forecast set to exceed £1 billion for the first time in 2021.

Channel 4 also confirmed in the report that its National HQ at the Majestic in Leeds will officially open on September 6th. 

The potential privatisation plans are part of a wider review of public service broadcasters, which could include tightening regulation for streaming services including Netflix and Disney+, a move it said could protect the public from “harmful or offensive material” via the introduction of new “rules on accuracy and impartiality.” 

Enjoyed this? Get our latest updates in your inbox every day

Subscribe to Prolific North’s morning newsletter to keep up with all the most important things going on in your sector.