ITV is set to launch a takeover bid for Channel 4 following the government’s announcement that the broadcaster is set to go up for sale.
As reported by the Telegraph, ITV told ministers that it is interested in making a bid for its rival and it is understood that it has taken advice from bankers at Credit Suisse to launch a formal bid.
A combined entity of Channel 4 and ITV would form a British powerhouse of content, and cement ITV’s ambitions to extend its international appeal and offering.
As it stands, the It’s A Sin creator is publicly owned and, though it does not receive public funds, restrictions that come with that status mean it has limited ability to borrow money or raise private capital, nor can it own or sell its own content.
The rational behind the move is that a private Channel 4 will allow the broadcaster to compete with streaming giants.
Nonetheless, the decision to privatise the broadcaster has proven controversial, with Channel 4 stars, politicians and members of the public airing their concerns.
Last year, Channel 4 bosses warned that privatisation would not “be in the interest of either British audiences or the UK economy”.
Government sources have been keen to emphasise that Channel 4 would be sold as a privately-owned public sector broadcaster, in a similar vein to ITV, which would include ongoing evening news programming.
The takeover battle is expected to attract attention from both sides of the Atlantic, with speculation that Sky, Discovery and Channel 5 owner Paramount would be taking a shot at the takeover.