Channel Four: Privatisation

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 21st September 2021.

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Photo of Jamie Stone Jamie Stone Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Armed Forces), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Defence), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if her Department will make an assessment of the impact of privatising Channel 4 on the availability of distinctive British content.

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

The government has recently consulted on whether an alternative ownership model for Channel 4 (but one where it retains a public service remit) may be better for the broadcaster, and better for the country.

We want Channel 4 to continue to be a public service broadcaster, and we want it to continue to contribute socially, economically and culturally to life across the UK. But there is a wealth of evidence - including Ofcom’s recent report - on the future challenges facing our traditional linear TV broadcasters. Channel 4 is uniquely constrained in its ability to meet these challenges while it remains under public ownership - particularly because its access to capital and ability to pursue strategic partnership opportunities is limited.

Channel 4’s remit, and its wider social and cultural contributions to life in the UK, are issues we have consulted on. The consultation opened on 6 July, running for 10 weeks, before closing on 14 September. We are currently analysing responses to inform our policy-making decisions. 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.

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