Sunak vows to push forward with Channel 4 privatisation
Rishi Sunak has vowed to push ahead with privatisation plans for Channel 4, killing hopes from C4 bosses and indie studios that a new leader would mean a new direction for government policy.
A Sunak campaign spokesperson told the Guardian: “Rishi will take forward Channel 4’s privatisation. Channel 4 is a crucial part of British broadcasting and supports our brilliant creative industries, but a lot has changed since the 1980s when it was set up to provide viewers with more choice.
“Privatisation will help Channel 4 to thrive in an age where they are also competing with Netflix, Amazon, Apple and many more – standing still is not an option.”
Channel 4 recently recorded its strongest ever financial results, with revenue topping £1bn for the first time in its history.
Because of its ongoing success, media execs insist privatisation is not the way the best path for the broadcaster.
Chief exec Alex Mahon said the white paper, which outlines the path to privatisation, is currently “silent” on how to preserve this remit of Channel 4.
She suggested in a committee meeting earlier this month that there would be no obligation to invest in talent and using indie production from across the country if there were to be a new commercial owner.
As it stands, 55 per cent of C4 spend is outside of London, which Mahon predicts could drop to 35 per cent under white paper plans. Meanwhile, the 100 per cent spent on indie producers could shrink to as little as 25 per cent.
All in all, Mahon suggested that these changes would sap £300m per annum from the indie sector and have a negative impact of £85m on the UK economy as a whole.
Meanwhile, the current Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, who is backing Liz Truss in the race to Number 10, has been at the forefront of the privatisation effort.
Speaking with LBC last month, Dorries said: “The sale of Channel 4 is about saving Channel 4. And the reason why we’re selling Channel 4 is because it’s state-owned and Channel 4 wants to raise funding in order to make more of that great content.”
Liz Truss’ spokesperson did not comment on the issue of privatisation when asked by the Guardian.