Channel 4 ‘welcomes’ Government’s move to abandon privatisation plan

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The Government confirmed it is scrapping plans to privatise Channel 4 on Thursday. Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan issued a statement saying the broadcaster should “not be sold” after her predecessor Nadine Dorries claimed government ownership was “holding Channel 4 back”. Channel 4 executives have responded to the U-turn, which they claim will “allow us to be even more of a power in the digital world”.

The original plan to sell Channel 4 for a possible £ 1.5 billion had sparked a backlash across much of the television industry.

Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon’s statement on the update read: “We welcome the Government’s decision that Channel 4 will remain in public ownership.

“This decision provides a firm basis on which to establish the sustainable direction of Channel 4, safely in the hands of the British people.”

She added: “Channel 4 is innovative, editorially brilliant and loved by audiences that others don’t reach, most of all the young and underrepresented.

“In the analogue world, we did this spectacularly. Now, in the digital era, we are doing it again.”

The original plan to sell Channel 4 for a possible £ 1.5 billion had sparked a backlash across much of the television industry.

Her comments come after Donelan announced she’d reached her verdict after reviewing the business case and engaging with the relevant sectors.

The politician stated: “This announcement will bring huge opportunities across the UK with Channel 4’s commitment to double their skills investment to £10m and double the number of jobs outside of London.

“The package will also safeguard the future of our world-leading independent production sector.

“We will work closely with them to add new protections such as increasing the amount of content C4C [Channel 4 Corporation] must commission from independent producers.”

Channel 4 has been funded by advertising but owned by the Government since it was launched in 1982.

The Government’s confirmation of its privatisation U-turn followed a leaked preliminary decision published on Wednesday.

Previous proposals to privatise the network have also failed over the years.

Express.co.uk has contacted Channel 4 for further comment.

Despite securing its ownership status, bosses face an uphill struggle as they continue to rely heavily on advertising income at a time when traditional viewing is collapsing.

Channel 4 chiefs have vowed to focus on its streaming service, named All4, which will soon be rebranded to Channel 4.

Viewers reacted to the announcement on Twitter, with Liam Rudden penning: “Channel 4 exists to create change through entertainment. Publicly owned yet commercially funded, @Channel4 generates significant and sustainable cultural, economic and social impact across the UK – at no cost to the taxpayer.’ And long may it continue to do so. #Channel4.”

Patrick Sharman added following the update: “Thank goodness for that #Channel4.”

Sunny said: “At last a Victory, for #Channel4 and the progressive British public. Could Nadine Dorries be any more redundant, let’s hope so. Enjoy the win.”

Ross Armour claimed: “Channel 4 now won’t be privatised following the latest Government U-turn.

“This is a good thing for a number of reasons, particularly editorial independence. Nadine Dorries won’t be happy. Rishi Sunak also wanted it privatised.” (sic)

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