My ministerial colleagues regularly meet a range of stakeholders to discuss issues relating to the work of the Department, including the future of Channel 4. The Government are considering a number of options, including those proposed by Channel 4’s leadership, but no decisions have yet been made.
As I have said, my concern is to ensure the continuing success and viability of Channel 4, which is why we are considering a number of options. I understand that the last Labour Government did so as well, and that they also considered privatisation. We have not yet reached a conclusion, but I will adopt whatever policy I believe is best designed to ensure that Channel 4 continues to enjoy the success that the right hon. Gentleman has described.
Does the Secretary of State recognise the inherent tension in the fact that one of the purposes of privatisation would be to raise the maximum amount of money for the Treasury, and the more Channel 4 sticks to its distinctive and successful remit, the less money is likely to be raised? Can he assure the House that, when he makes his final decision, the preservation of the broadcasting and the creative success of Channel 4 will be uppermost in his mind?
I am very happy to give my right hon. Friend exactly that assurance. The reason why we are looking at different options for the future of Channel 4 is to ensure that it can continue to deliver the remit in what is going to become a very fast-changing and challenging environment. However, as I have made clear before, it is the remit that matters, and I want Channel 4 to continue to deliver it into the future.
Has the Secretary of State had an opportunity to consider the “One year on” report on Channel 4’s 360° diversity charter? Does he recognise that, while diversity is a pronounced feature in Channel 4’s particular vocation, increasing diversity is not only the job of Channel 4, and will he value diversity when he considers the BBC charter renewal?
I absolutely agree with the hon. Gentleman. The challenge of increasing diversity applies across all broadcasters. It is something that I know my hon. Friend the Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy has paid close attention to—and indeed he was speaking only this week with Idris Elba, who is another person who competes with him in terms of his own attraction.
Can the Secretary of State confirm that the Chancellor of the Exchequer now believes Channel 4 privatisation will bring the Conservatives much public opprobrium for a relatively small financial return and that the Conservatives are now backing away from the idea of privatising this much loved public institution?
I hate to disappoint the hon. Gentleman, but, as I said earlier, no decisions have been taken. I have not had an opportunity to discuss the matter with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because we have not yet reached our own conclusions on it, but I look forward to doing so in due course.