I would like to reassure you that the Government remains committed to the success and sustainability of the UK’s public broadcasting system, of which Channel 4 is an integral part.
Channel 4 has been hugely successful in delivering the aims set out at its creation in 1982, including supporting the UK independent production sector; delivering diverse and risk-taking content; and contributing to the wider public goals of public service broadcasting. However, since then, the TV landscape has changed beyond recognition.
As you might be aware, Channel 4 is entirely commercially funded, but has been publicly owned since it began broadcasting. It was set up in this way principally to provide greater choice. Today though, audiences can now watch what they want, when they want, how they want, across a range of internet-enabled personal devices. The independent production sector has also grown enormously so that it now supplies content to a wide range of broadcasters and streaming services.
The Culture Secretary, after public consultation, considers Government ownership to be holding Channel 4 back from competing against streaming sites such as Netflix and Amazon. A change of ownership will offer Channel 4 the freedom to continue its success as a public service broadcaster long into the future. Further details will be available in a White Paper expected in due course.
It is encouraging that the Culture Secretary will seek to use potential proceeds of the sale to level up the creative sector. Investing the money into independent production and creative skills in priority parts of the country will deliver a creative dividend for all. Finally, it is worth noting that the UK film industry made more films than Hollywood in the last quarter of 2021 and with more studios opening in the UK, delivering funding will be key.