Senior Tory MPs have urged the Prime Minister to drop the Channel 4 privatisation push this morning.
In a letter to Boris Johnson, the MPs, including former culture secretary Karen Bradley and ex-cabinet minister Damian Green, said that a case for privatisation had not been made and the move would undermine the founding vision of Margaret Thatcher.
Calling Johnson to “leave it alone”, the MPs argue that new ownership is unnecessary amid “red meat” policy changes, spearheaded by Johnson and the current Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries.
As it stands, Channel 4 is owned by the state, but editorially independent and funded from ads. However, unlike other broadcasters, it has an obligation to reinvest in new shows and independent firms.
The letter, as reported by the Observer, argued: “It [Channel 4] is self-sufficient and successful, making no drain on the public purse. It also plays a vital role in the broadcasting ecosystem, not least in commissioning programmes from more independent production companies, and more small independent production companies, than any other public service broadcaster.”
“Channel 4’s support for regional SMEs is unique. The channel’s support for these companies through its commissioning targets already goes far further than is required, and further than any other public service broadcaster.”
It adds: “Margaret Thatcher created Channel 4 as a publicly owned, non-profit public sector broadcaster that would act as an incubator for independent, risk-taking, innovative private sector companies. She had a vision to level up the broadcasting landscape and she succeeded spectacularly well. We should maintain her legacy, not put it at risk.”
The MPs also point to the value of regional voices, as well as the gains made by independent production from Channel 4.
Back in November, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said that no decision has been made about the future of Channel 4, but defends ministers reviewing whether to privatise, stating it was “absolutely right and proper”.