Culture secretary confirms plans to privatise Channel 4 scrapped

Michelle Donelan has scrapped plans by her predecessor Nadine Dorries to sell off the television channel.

Culture secretary Michelle Donelan confirms Channel Four to remain in public ownership iStock

Culture secretary Michelle Donelan has confirmed the Government has scrapped plans to privatise Channel 4 and the broadcaster will remain in public ownership.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said the decision was made following discussions with Channel 4 and the independent production sector and an “ambitious package of measures” would serve as an alternative to the sale.

The package includes reforms through the Media Bill which will allow Channel 4 to make and own some of its content and a new statutory duty on the board to “protect” the long-term financial sustainability of the business.

The broadcaster has also committed to increasing roles outside London and providing more opportunities for people from across the UK to gain experience in the sector as part of the package, the DCMS announced.

In a statement, Donelan said: “Channel 4 is a British success story and a linchpin of our booming creative industries. After reviewing the business case and engaging with the relevant sectors, I have decided that Channel 4 should not be sold.

“This announcement will bring huge opportunities across the UK with Channel 4’s commitment to double their skills investment to £10m and double the number of jobs outside of London.

“The package will also safeguard the future of our world leading independent production sector. We will work closely with them to add new protections such as increasing the amount of content C4C must commission from independent producers.”

The decision to take the broadcaster out of public ownership was announced under the tenure of her predecessor, Nadine Dorries, who led the move during Boris Johnson’s premiership.

It comes days after Donelan reportedly wrote to the Prime Minister recommending the Government drops its plans to privatise Channel 4.

Channel 4 was created in 1982 by the Conservative government of Baroness Thatcher and is entirely funded by advertising, out of public ownership.

Unlike other broadcasters, everything it airs is commissioned from external production companies.

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