Photo suggests Tory government is considering Channel 4 privatisation

Channel 4 Building in London, September 2012 by Loz Pycock

The British government appears to be looking into privatising aspects of Channel 4, according to a policy document snapped by photographer Steve Back outside of Downing Street.

The document, shown below, was apparently being held by a nameless suit, and references a meeting with Matt Hancock, the minister for the Cabinet Office, the department of the prime minister.

The text reads:

“In your recent meeting with Matt Hancock you agreed that work should proceed [to] examine the options for extracting greater public value from the Channel 4 Corporation (C4C), focusing on privatisation options in particular, whilst protect[ing] its ability to deliver against its remit.

“This submission outlines the options we propose to explore, working with SheX [Shareholder Executive, government body that owns  Channel 4] and CO [Cabinet Office]. It is also set out next steps in pursuing that work [sic], including a recommendation you write to C4C reques[ing] that they open their books to ShEx to enable more meaning options anlays[is].”

Earlier this summer culture secretary John Whittingdale had said a sale of Channel 4 was not under discussion, though he did not rule it out.

A number of media groups had previously reported such a sale was due to take place, with the Financial Times claiming that a sale could raise £1bn for the British government.

In the past the coalition government had looked at such a sale, but the move was blocked by the Liberal Democrat business secretary Vince Cable, who lost his Twickenham seat in the general election in May.

Back’s photo comes as the BBC’s Charter Review approaches at the end of 2016, with the Tories’ long-held contempt for the Beeb prompting many to worry the government could look to cripple the national broadcaster.

To this end Tony Hall, director general of the Beeb, is hoping to modernise the BBC for the Internet Age, whilst rejecting the Conservative view that he intends to expand the organisation’s remit.

Channel 4’s younger audience may put it at greater risk from streaming firms like Netflix, according to Enders Analysis, when compared to the BBC.

Image Credit – Channel 4 Building in London, September 2012 by Loz Pycock

Jimmy Nicholls

Jimmy Nicholls

Writer on Westminster, free speech, religion and so forth. Contact jimmy.nicholls@rightdishonourable.com

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