Tuesday 22 June 2021 7:49 pm

David Attenborough calls for govt to stop 'short-sighted' attack on broadcasting

The British broadcaster has put his name to a campaign accusing the government of “short-sighted political and financial attacks” on the UK’s television networks.

Sir David Attenborough is the latest media star to support the British Broadcasting Challenge campaign, as the government mulls the privatisation of Channel 4.

The 95-year-old presenter today signed the campaign’s open letter to culture secretary Oliver Dowden, which calls for “an open and transparent debate” on the future of public service broadcasting.

The UK’s public service broadcasting system – which is publically owned, heavily regulated, but independent from government – is “unique in the world”, the letter states.

“But the very public service principles that have served us so well are under severe threat – not only from the unregulated streaming services and ‘click-bait’ content of big-tech companies, but also from government,” the letter continues.

The letter concludes with a call for ministers “to stop short-sighted political and financial attacks” on broadcasters.

Attenborough’s support for the letter comes on the eve of an expected decision by Oliver Dowden on the fate of Channel 4.

The culture secretary has previously said that all options were “on the table” for the future of the channel, while last week it emerged privatisation could be chosen as soon as next year. The Channel 4 decision is part of a wider review into the UK’s television channels.

Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon said on Tuesday that the channel would have “different priorities” if it is privatised, and warned against doing anything “irreversible” which could “possibly damage some of those things that we do for the sector”.

“And, you know, my question would be: what’s the analysis to show what makes us stronger?” she added.

Mahon pointed to the fact that Channel 4 does not pursue a profit, but rather pumps money back into the British production sector. She cautioned that this wouldn’t continue under a commercial business model.