The government is launching a consultation on the potential change of ownership of the Channel 4 with privatisation its preferred option.
The DCMS statement says that the government wants to “preserve Channel 4’s status as a public service broadcaster producing original, distinctive content” but “the fast evolving media landscape, with increased competition and changing audience habits, is posing serious challenges to traditional ‘linear’ TV broadcasters, which means it is now time to review its ownership structure.”
The DCMS says that private-sector ownership of Channel 4 and a change to its remit “could enable it to thrive in the decades to come as a successful and sustainable public service broadcaster” and “give it greater access to new strategic and investment opportunities, allowing it to compete effectively in a more agile fashion and ensuring it has the best chance of a successful and sustainable future.”
The consultation will last for 10 weeks and closes on 14th September.
Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “The media world has changed immeasurably since Channel 4’s creation in the early 1980s, but whilst we have more choice today the need for a strong and successful Channel 4 continues.
“So in the face of rising global competition, now is the right time to strengthen UK public service broadcasters and consider releasing Channel 4 from the constraints of public ownership, enabling it to thrive for the next 40 years and beyond.
“All responses received as part of the consultation will be carefully analysed before the government publishes its response and sets out next steps.”
The consultation questions
1. Do you agree that there are challenges in the current TV broadcasting market that present barriers to a sustainable Channel 4 in public ownership? Please provide supporting evidence.
• Not sure
2. Would Channel 4, with a continued public service broadcasting licence and remit, be better placed to deliver sustainably against the government’s aims for public service broadcasting if it was outside public ownership? Please provide supporting evidence.
• Not Sure
Social public service value
3. Should Channel 4 continue its contribution to levelling up the regions and nations of the UK through retaining a presence outside London and a strengthened regional production remit? Please provide supporting evidence.
• Not sure
4. Should the government revise Channel 4’s remit and obligations to ensure it remains relevant in an evolving broadcast market? If yes, what changes should be made (which could include new freedoms or changes to its obligations)? Please provide supporting evidence.
• Not sure
Creative economy impact
5. Should the government remove the publisher-broadcaster restriction to increase Channel 4’s ability to diversify its commercial revenue streams? Please provide supporting evidence.
• Not sure
6. With reference to supporting evidence, what would the economic, social and cultural costs and benefits of Channel 4 moving out of public ownership be on:
a. overall audience experience?
b. the Channel 4 Television Corporation itself?
c. investment in the independent production sector?
d. investment in the independent film sector?
e. the TV advertising market?
f. investment in the creative industries sector more widely?
g. competition between Channel 4 and other PSB and non-PSB channels?
h. the regions and nations of the UK?
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