Channel 4 chief exec warns privatisation move would stop emergence of programmes like Gogglebox

William Turvill
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Channel 4 chief executive David Abraham has spoken out against privatisation

The chief executive of Channel 4 has warned that programmes like Gogglebox would struggle to emerge if the government introduced any form of privatisation.

David Abraham is appearing alongside Channel 4’s chair, Charles Gurassa, before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee this afternoon.

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It comes after culture secretary John Whittingdale indicated to the committee on Tuesday that the government was still considering its options over the publicly owned, but commercially funded, channel. He also said that “quite a number of people” had expressed an interest.

The government has been considering selling off Channel 4 since last year. But it emerged last month that full privatisation is now off the table, with partial privatisation still possible.

Abraham suggested that a move towards privatisation would lead to the channel coming “under pressure”. He added: “You don’t arrive at the new ideas, because you’re not taking the same level of creative risk because you’re looking at the bottom line more.

Read more: Channel 4 condemns "prolonged uncertainty" over privatisation

“So great things like Gogglebox that appear now to be great commercial hits... they’ve been arrived at through a process of experimentation, which are the by-product of the not-for-profit model.

“So I fundamentally disagree with the assertion that all of these wonderful things would continue. They are the product of the model.”

Companies including Viacom, BT and Discovery have been linked with moves for Channel 4. Discovery’s chief executive indicated his company remains interested in buying a stake in the channel last week.

Both Abraham and Gurassa have spoken out against privatisation in the past few months.