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Culture Secretary tells PM she thinks Channel 4 privatisation should not go ahead

4 January 2023, 12:59

Michelle Donelan has written to the PM recommending the privatisation of Channel 4 should not go ahead
Michelle Donelan has written to the PM recommending the privatisation of Channel 4 should not go ahead. Picture: Alamy

By Lewis Goodall

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan has written to the Prime Minister recommending the Government drops its plans to privatise Channel 4.

The decision to take the broadcaster out of public ownership was announced under the tenure of her predecessor, Nadine Dorries, who led the move during Boris Johnson's premiership.

In an exclusive for The News Agents podcast, the letter by Ms Donelan says she has "concluded that pursuing a sale at this point is not the right decision and there are better ways to secure C4C's (Channel 4 Corporation) sustainability and that of the independent production sector".

She added that its role in supporting the independent production sector "would be very disrupted by a sale at a time when growth and economic stability are our priorities".

Read more: RMT chief Mick Lynch compares government to 'repressive regimes like China' in LBC phone-in

Channel 4 was created in 1982 by the Conservative government of Baroness Thatcher and is entirely funded by advertising, out of public ownership.

Ms Donelan, who was appointed by Liz Truss and remained in the role after Mr Sunak took over as Prime Minister, had previously cast doubt on plans to privatise the broadcaster.

She said she was re-examining the "business case" to make sure "we still agree with that decision".

When the Government announced plans last year to take the channel out of public ownership, it said it was so the broadcaster can better survive in a media landscape dominated by the likes of Netflix and Amazon.

A spokesman for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said: "We do not comment on speculation. The DCMS Secretary of State has been clear that we are looking again at the business case for the sale of Channel 4. We will announce more on our plans in due course."

Shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell said the "Conservatives' vendetta against Channel 4 was always wrong for Britain."

Ms Powell tweeted: "The Conservatives' vendetta against Channel 4 was always wrong for Britain, growth in our creative economy and a complete waste of everyone's time.

"Our broadcasting and creative industries lead the world, yet this Government has hamstrung them with this total distraction."

Ms Donelan’s predecessor Nadine Dorries tweeted: “Three years of a progressive Tory government being washed down the drain. Levelling up, dumped.

"Social care reform, dumped. Keeping young and vulnerable people safe online, watered down. A bonfire of EU leg, not happening. Sale of C4 giving back £2b reversed. Replaced with what?”

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