Channel 4: Privatisation — [Mr Nigel Evans in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:43 am on 21st July 2021.

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Photo of John Whittingdale John Whittingdale Minister of State 10:43 am, 21st July 2021

I thank you, Ms Fovargue, and Mr Deputy Speaker, for presiding over our debate. Neither of you expected to be in this position today, so we appreciate your giving up the time to join us. I also thank Dame Angela Eagle for securing this debate. As she says, it is a very important subject, so I am glad that the House has an opportunity to debate it.

However, I do not think a single speaker has talked about the revolution taking place in television at the moment. Every speech has been backward looking. Each one has been a list of admittedly terrific programming over the past 40 years, but there has been no looking forward and no reference to what is happening to television viewing and how the landscape is changing. Linear viewing is in rapid decline. Young people are no longer looking at scheduled programmes on the traditional broadcast channels. The competition for eyeballs, which comes from streaming services, a new one of which joins the market almost every few months, is completely changing. Therefore, what we intend and wish to do is look forward. Yes, Channel 4 has a terrific record and is doing well at the moment, but it is the Government’s job to ensure that Channel 4 has a viable future going forward—not this year or next, but in 10 years. That is the purpose of the consultation.