Channel 4 privatisation shelved as government launches consultation on whether to move broadcaster out of London

William Turvill
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The government has concluded an 18-month review on whether to privatise Channel 4 (Source: Getty)

The government has shelved plans to privatise Channel 4 and has launched a consultation on moving the broadcaster out of London.

Culture secretary Karen Bradley will tomorrow call for Channel 4, which is publicly owned and privately funded, to have a “major presence” outside of the capital. She wants it to “deliver more jobs, develop more talent and drive creativity wherever it is found”.

Channel 4 said it welcomed the government decision not to privatise but warned that a relocation could be “highly damaging”.

A spokesman said:

The most important factor in supporting the nations and regions is where we spend our money rather than where Channel 4 is headquartered. A substantial relocation would be highly damaging to Channel 4’s business model and diminish our investment in the creative industries around the UK and our overall contribution to the UK economy.

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Bradley’s predecessor, John Whittingdale, launched a review of whether to sell-off Channel 4 in late 2015. Bradley, who took on the job in July last year, has now concluded that the “precious public asset” should remain publicly owned.

She will say tomorrow:

Over the last 18 months, the government has been looking at the risks and opportunities facing Channel 4. The TV market is facing unprecedented changes and challenges – increased consumer choice, new ways of watching, and fierce competition at home and abroad. We want to ensure that Channel 4 has a strong, sustainable, and successful future – able not only to survive, but to thrive.

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On the relocation consultation, Bradley will tell a conference in Salford: “We want the benefits of this national asset to be spread far and wide, not just in London.

“And that means rethinking where it is based, and where it spends money.

“I am unsympathetic towards those who recoil in horror at the very idea of media jobs being based outside the capital. Or for those who insist that people with ideas in the West Midlands, West Country or West Wales must travel to Westminster to get their programmes made.”

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport will publish a consultation in the coming weeks to examine whether Channel 4 should relocate all or some of its staff from London, including potentially moving its headquarters. It will also consider whether to raise the amount of money Channel 4 spends outside of the M25.

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