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

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

Alert me about debates like this

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

I am afraid I do not have time.

I want to make it absolutely clear that there is no political agenda attached to this. I am completely committed to an independent Channel 4, and I welcome the fact that it has a questioning news programme. This is not motivated in any way by a political agenda or ideology. It is about sustaining Channel 4 and making sure that it has a viable future. That is why we are having a consultation. It is a consultation.

I want to answer the point about remit. We are asking a question about whether the remit might or might not be amended to take account of changes. It is not a question of removing the remit. In some areas, there may well be a case for strengthening the remit, and there is absolutely no intention to strip the remit away. The remit will be there. Whether it is tweaked in some way, perhaps to increase the requirements for production outside London, is something that we are asking questions about.

I also want to answer the question about the impact assessment. The impact assessment will be determined by the answers to those questions. An impact assessment cannot be carried out before those things have been decided—for instance, what the remit should be, as that will have a huge effect on the impact. All those matters are subject to an open consultation, with no decision taken.

The hon. Member for Wallasey referred to lack of parliamentary time. I can promise her that, if it is decided to change the model, that will require primary legislation. There will be no lack of opportunity for Parliament to debate any changes that we decide to make. There will be an impact assessment at that time. No decision has been taken. It is the job of Government to look forward and to ask how we can best ensure that Channel 4 has a viable future. That is what we are doing.