Exclusive: Ministers Have Spent £2 Million On 'Doomed' Plan To Privatise Channel 4

Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries announced the plan to privatise Channel 4 in April.
Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries announced the plan to privatise Channel 4 in April.

Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries announced the plan to privatise Channel 4 in April.

Ministers have spent £2 million on plans to privatise Channel 4 - even though the plans are set to be abandoned by Rishi Sunak.

Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries sparked a furious backlash when she unveiled the sell-off plans in April.

Among the opponents of the move was Jeremy Hunt, who is now chancellor.

At the time, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said the sell-off would allow the channel to “thrive in the face of a rapidly-changing media landscape”.

But the Financial Times reported earlier this month that the controversial policy is likely to be “quietly dropped” by Sunak.

Labour frontbencher Emily Thornberry tabled a parliamentary question asking how much the government has so far spent on the proposed privatisation.

In her reply, DCMS minister Julia Lopez revealed that £600,000 was spent on “staff activity, external research and advice, public consultation and stakeholder engagement” in the 2021/22 financial year.

So far in 2022/23, an additional £1.4 million has been spent - bringing the overall total to £2 million.

Lopez said: “This work has supported the development of options to help address the challenges that Channel 4 is facing to its long term success and sustainability.

“The secretary of state has said that she is reviewing the business case for a sale of Channel 4 and will set out more detail in due course.”

Lucy Powell, Labour’s shadow culture secretary, told HuffPost UK: “What a waste of public money in the midst of a cost of living crisis.

“Channel 4 privatisation was only last consulted on five years ago. The government wasted millions of pounds finding out what we already knew – that privatising Channel 4 is a terrible idea, and the vast majority in the industry and in the public are against it.

“We understand the secretary of state is looking at it again, but she should drop the privatisation plans quickly, stop wasting public funds and bring forward the long-awaited Media Bill so that our world-renowned creative industries get the certainty they need to grow and thrive.”

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