Culture Secretary confirms decision not to sell Channel 4

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan has confirmed the Government has scrapped plans to privatise Channel 4 but has agreed c4 must make specific reforms to help it compete with streaming culture.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said the decision was made following discussions with Channel 4 and the independent production sector and an “ambitious package of measures” would serve as an alternative to the sale.

The package includes reforms through the Media Bill which will allow Channel 4 the flexibility to make and own some of its content and a new statutory duty on the board to “protect” the long-term financial sustainability of the business.

Channel 4 privatisation
Culture Secretary confirms Channel 4 will not be sold (Lewis Whyld/PA)

The broadcaster has also committed to increasing roles outside London and providing more opportunities for people from across the UK to gain experience in the sector as part of the package, the DCMS announced.

It is hoped the reforms will help Channel 4 grow and better compete in the age of streaming giants.

In a statement, Ms Donelan said: “Channel 4 is a British success story and a linchpin of our booming creative industries. After reviewing the business case and engaging with the relevant sectors, I have decided that Channel 4 should not be sold.

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

“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 must commission from independent producers.”

Nadine Dorries to guest host Piers Morgan’s TalkTV show
Nadine Dorries (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

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.

It comes days after Ms Donelan reportedly wrote to the Prime Minister recommending the Government drops its plans to privatise Channel 4.

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

Unlike other broadcasters, everything it airs is commissioned from external production companies.