The Government is committed to the success and sustainability of the UK’s public broadcasting system, of which Channel 4 is an integral part.
Channel 4 is entirely commercially funded, but it has been publicly owned since it began broadcasting. The main reason it was set up as a publicly owned, commercially run station was to provide greater choice. Today audiences can now watch what they want, whenever they want, across a range of internet-enabled personal devices. The independent production sector has also grown enormously so that it now supplies content to a wide range of broadcasters and streaming services.
That is why a future ownership model (whereby Channel 4 keeps its public service remit) is being considered to ensure more content, more jobs, and a more sustainable future for the broadcaster. To achieve this, it will require access to capital, and a strengthened ability to invest in its services, which is not available under public ownership.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has recently held a public consultation on the future ownership of Channel 4 as part of the Government’s review of public service broadcasting, which I am sure you contributed to. The consultation considered both the ownership and remit of Channel 4, ensuring its future success and sustainability. For further information on the consultation, please search: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-a-change-of-ownership-of-channel-4-television-corporation
The Culture Secretary, after public consultation, considers Government ownership to be holding Channel 4 back from competing against streaming sites such as Netflix and Amazon. A change of ownership will offer Channel 4 the freedom to continue its success as a public service broadcaster long into the future. The review comes ahead of the broadcasting white paper, due to be published in the autumn. The White Paper will consider the future of the country’s broadcasting landscape with the aim of making sure it serves listeners and viewers on all platforms and across the entire UK.
I am encouraged that the Culture Secretary will seek to use potential proceeds of the sale to level up the creative sector. Investing the money into independent production and creative skills in priority parts of the country will deliver a creative dividend for all.