Sturgeon condemns ‘cultural vandalism’ in Channel 4 privatisation plans

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Scotland’s First Minister has branded UK Government plans to privatise Channel 4 “cultural vandalism”.

Nicola Sturgeon was addressing MSPs at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday.

Jenni Minto, SNP MSP for Argyll and Bute, voiced her concerns on the controversial proposals for a change of ownership of the 40-year-old TV company.

She asked: “Does the First Minister share my concern that Channel 4 is currently under threat from a Tory Government that appears to be doing all it can to undermine the principles of public service broadcasting for its own narrow political interest?”

The First Minister said that is “absolutely what is happening”.

She continued: “These proposals, I think, represent cultural vandalism, but they do also represent an attempt on the part of the UK Government to undermine public service broadcasting.”

She told MSPs that the current model is a “good one, it’s a successful one”, and called on people to “get behind it” to try to reverse the move by the Conservatives.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I can’t see any reason whatsoever why Channel 4 should be privatised, and especially not at the very time it has shown resilience in weathering the pandemic and strengthened its content spend and investment in Scotland.”

Meanwhile, former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson drew comparisons between the plans to privatise Channel 4 and the news that Netflix lost 200,000 subscribers in the first three months of 2022.

The streaming giant has warned shareholders that it could lose a further two million subscribers in the three months leading up to July.

Ms Davidson said: “I like Netflix. Heck, I’m a subscriber. I want it to do well.

“But its current tough patch throws into sharp relief why those in Government saying Channel 4 needs (to be) flogged off in order to compete with such streaming platforms should pause and realise Channel 4’s stability is actually a strength.”

The plans have been met with much criticism, with bosses at the channel warning of a “real risk” to some of its programmes.

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