I share your concerns about the Government’s intentions to privatise our media landscape. It would be a massive loss to see Channel 4 being sold off to the highest bidder. Great British TV belongs in the UK, and should be protected for the future.
For nearly four decades, Channel 4 has created an endless list of brilliant, progressive and world-leading programmes. I believe it is a British success story which was established to provide distinctive output and to drive forward growth in the independent TV production sector, and it has far exceeded these goals. In addition, its sharp, challenging, diverse and entertaining programming does very well in appealing to a wider and younger audience.
I believe the decision to press ahead with proposals to privatise Channel 4 does not have any solid evidence behind it. Indeed, Channel 4 has just had one of its best financial years on record and has reported an increase in viewing figures across all its platforms.
The Government has said that now is the time to strengthen public service broadcasters, and that the consultation is to ensure that Channel 4 has a viable and sustainable future. It argues that changes in advertising will put its funding under pressure, as Channel 4 is paid for by advertising, and that it needs to adapt because of competition from streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon.
I believe that this misses the point, as Channel 4 was created to be different, diverse and daring, and to champion the under-represented voices of this country. It does not need to spend millions of pounds to compete, it needs to do what it does best and create fundamentally British content that speaks to and represents British audiences.
As you will know, the Government launched a consultation which closes on 14 September. It has stated that any proposed changes will be debated in Parliament.
In my view, these proposals would also be catastrophic for the creative industry, because of Channel 4’s investment in the sector and in regional television and production.
I can assure you I will call for Channel 4 to be protected.