Channel 4 seeks talks with new culture secretary as it awaits privatisation decision

 
William Turvill
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The government has been considering the privatisation of Channel 4 since last September (Source: Getty)

Channel 4 is seeking discussions with the new culture secretary as it awaits a government decision on its future and a possible privatisation.

The government has been considering selling off all of part of the publicly-owned, commercially-funded broadcaster since September last year.

In May, Channel 4 chairman Charles Gurassa condemned the “prolonged uncertainty” around the potential privatisation by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and culture secretary John Whittingdale.

Read more: Lords back Channel 4 to withstand Brexit volatility, warn against sell-off

Two months on, the channel is still seeking clarity from new culture secretary Karen Bradley, who replaced Whittingdale as part of the Theresa May’s cabinet reshuffle this month.

City A.M. understands Channel 4 has written to Bradley and is seeking to meet her to discuss the potential privatisation, which will be considered over the summer.

On Wednesday, Ed Vaizey, a former minister who left the DCMS as part of the reshuffle, described the Channel 4 sell-off discussions as Whittingdale’s “agenda”.

Read more: Channel 4 exec warns privatisation move would stop new Goggleboxes emerging

He told BBC’s Media Show: “It wasn’t my idea. I’m not trying to put the blame on John. But I supported John in doing it because I think I’m one of those people who thinks it’s worth raising what might be seen as a controversial issue.

“It is worth saying to Channel 4: Are you fulfilling your remit? Are you sustainable in a multi-channel, digital age? Are there other ways of doing it – indeed, potentially bringing in a private partner?

“But it was very much John’s agenda. And I would be interested to see if it stays.”

A DCMS spokesperson said: “Government is looking at all options to ensure a strong and secure future for Channel 4 in what is a fast changing and challenging broadcasting environment. No decisions have been taken yet.”

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