Channel 4 is a major pillar of these plans to safeguard the future of public service broadcasting. Following an extensive consultation, the Secretary of State has come to the conclusion that, in today’s intensely competitive broadcast economy, public ownership is holding Channel 4 back.
Channel 4 is and will remain a free-to-air PSB, just like ITV, Channel 5 and STV which are privately-owned and hugely successful. But the government will remove the restriction which effectively prohibits Channel 4 from producing and selling its own content so it can diversify its revenue streams and improve its long-term sustainability.
Whoever buys the broadcaster will inherit equivalent obligations to what it is subject to now as a Public Service Broadcaster - a requirement to support regional production outside London and England, commission a minimum volume of shows from independent producers, and to provide news as well as the original, innovative and risk-taking content it is known and loved for.
The Government will look to use some of the proceeds from the sale of Channel 4 to deliver a new creative dividend for the sector.
The Government will bring forward legislation to enable a change of ownership of Channel 4 through the Media Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech.