Thursday 17 June 2021 7:59 pm

Government mulls privatisation of Channel 4 next year

Daily news reporter in City A.M.'s London newsroom

The government could sell Channel 4 as early as next year, as the UK culture secretary seeks the “best model” for the broadcaster.

Ministers are planning to launch a consultation within weeks to explore what is next for the 39-year-old company, the Financial Times reports this evening.

Youth-oriented Channel 4 is owned by the government but funded entirely through advertisement. It has faced heavy competition from streaming platforms, fighting for the attention of similarly younger audiences.

In May, culture secretary Oliver Dowden repeated that privatising Channel 4 was “on the table” as part of a wider review into the UK’s public service broadcasters.

Dowden previously said the government had “not ruled out” selling the company by 2024, when its current licence will need to be renewed.

The move has been repeatedly explored since the 1980s. The government last rejected the idea in 2016 after it was estimated the sale could be worth up to £1bn. It is unclear what its value would be today.

Channel 4 and the department for digital, culture, media and sport declined to comment on the matter.