Channel Four: Privatisation

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 24th September 2021.

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Photo of Damian Green Damian Green Conservative, Ashford

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will make and publish an assessment of the impact of privatising Channel 4 on businesses and jobs in the UK TV production sector.

Photo of Julia Lopez Julia Lopez Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office), Minister of State

The government recognises that Channel 4 has consistently delivered on its remit in the decades since being established, including supporting the UK’s independent production sector.

Forty years on, this sector is now flourishing. Independent production is increasingly less reliant on income from UK public service broadcasters, and will continue to be in demand for the high-quality, differentiated, distinctively British content it produces. In the 10 years between 2008 and 2018, the contribution of PSB commissions to sector revenue fell from 64% to 42%, due in large part to the growth of international revenue.

The consultation opened on 6 July, running for 10 weeks, before closing on 14 September. We are currently analysing responses to our consultation. Once we have answered the questions set out in the consultation, we will know what specific impacts to assess and will therefore be in a position to carry out an impact assessment

Whatever decision we make, it will not compromise this government’s commitment to the independent production sector and wider creative economy. Our support for the UK film and TV industry has helped it bounce back from the impact of the pandemic when it had to shut-down in March 2020. For Q4 2020 the UK film and TV industry had the second highest production spend for any quarter on record - at £1.19 billion.

Last year, the government invested over £1 billion through the creative sector tax reliefs which support the UK screen sectors. In High-End TV, the UK has seen a production boom worth over £4 billion since a dedicated tax relief was introduced in 2013.

More than 600 productions have been supported by the government’s UK Film and TV Production Restart Scheme, protecting over 55,000 jobs and securing £1.9 billion of production spend.

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