To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment her Department has made of the impact of the privatisation of Channel 4 on its annual levels of investment in independent television and film production companies.
The Government consulted extensively on the future of Channel 4, and the views and evidence gathered from a wide range of stakeholders has informed the government’s assessment of any potential impact of a change of ownership. The Government published its sale impact analysis on 28 April.
Channel 4 has done an excellent job in supporting the UK production sector and thereby delivering on one of its founding purposes. Forty years on, independent production in the UK is now booming, with revenues having grown from £500 million in 1995 to £3 billion in 2019. Companies are increasingly less reliant on Public Service Broadcasters (PSBs), including Channel 4 for commissions.
Channel 4 still has an important part to play in supporting the sector and our wider creative economy. Channel 4 will still be required to commission a minimum volume of programming from independent producers, in line with the quotas placed on other PSBs.
Channel 4 has strong relationships with independent producers right across the UK and there is no reason this should change. The Government expects a new owner to want to build on and develop those relationships.
The Government believes that in the long run the UK production ecosystem will benefit from a more sustainable Channel 4. A change of ownership that improves Channel 4’s access to capital could increase spending on production.