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Channel 4 privatisation to be shelved

January 4, 2023

By Colin Mann

Michelle Donelan, UK Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has written to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recommending the Government drops its plans to privatise commercial public service broadcaster Channel 4.

Donelan says she has concluded that pursuing a sale at this point is not the right decision and there are better ways to secure Channel 4’s sustainability and that of the independent production sector.

She noted the view of her predecessor Nadine Dorries was that a sale was the “right solution” to issues around its long-term sustainability, but that she had come to the opposite conclusion after “reviewing the business case”.

Donelan plans to announce a new package of measures to help tackle the challenges Channel 4 will face in the “evolving media sector”.

She confirmed in December 2022 that she was considering “other options for providing long-term sustainability” to Channel 4. She told the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media & Sport that when she took on the role, “what I wanted to do, as someone that focuses very much on the evidence, is review the business case myself and I can understand why there were concerns around Channel 4 in the long term from a sustainability point of view. And so, in addition to reviewing the business case, specifically for selling Channel 4, I’ve also been reviewing the other options for providing long-term sustainability around Channel 4 and we will announce our decision on that in due course”.

Shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell said that the Conservatives’ “vendetta” against Channel 4 was “always wrong for Britain, growth in our creative economy and a complete waste of everyone’s time”.

“Labour opposed this sell off, and took a strong stand. Government must now bring forward the Media Bill to protect and promote Britain’s broadcasters in the streaming age,” she stated.

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