Culture secretary

Channel 4 and BBC license fees to Culture Secretary’s new program

Michelle Donelan: Channel 4 and BBC license fees over Culture Secretary’s new program (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA) (PA Media)

Michelle Donelan will face ongoing talks over Channel 4 privatization and BBC licensing fees as she steps into the role of UK Culture Secretary.

Ms. Donelan has previous experience in the entertainment industry, having worked for The History Channel as well as international marketing communications manager for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).

She has been an MP since 2015 and represents the South West constituency of Chippenham.

His role as digital, culture, media and sport secretary is his second cabinet post, having been appointed education secretary under Boris Johnson.

However, she became the shortest cabinet member in British history, having resigned less than 36 hours later, as part of a series of ministerial resignations.

His new appointment as Culture Secretary comes as the chief executive of the Alliance of Film and Television Producers (Pact), which represents the independent TV production sector, has called for a review of privatization from Channel 4.

Ms Donelan’s predecessor, Nadine Dorries, announced the government’s intention to privatize the broadcaster earlier this year.

The government has argued that the broadcaster will struggle to survive in a media landscape increasingly dominated by big streaming giants such as Netflix.

Pact chief executive John McVay said it would be an “absurd” decision to move the broadcaster, which is entirely ad-supported, out of public ownership.

Ms Donelan will also inherit problems with the BBC license fee review.

Government plans to replace the broadcaster’s funding model have previously been described as a “big bait” to attack the BBC by Jon Thoday, co-founder and co-executive chairman of production company Avalon.

Ms Donelan's role as digital, culture, media and sport secretary is her second cabinet post, after less than two days as education secretary (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire )

Ms Donelan’s role as digital, culture, media and sport secretary is her second cabinet post, after less than two days as education secretary (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire )

In January, Ms Dorries announced licensing fees would be frozen at £159 for the next two years until April 2024.

Ms Dorries said she wanted to find a new funding model before the current deal expires in 2027 because it is “completely outdated”.

The review was due to start before the Commons summer recess on July 22 but was thrown into doubt after Mr Johnson stepped down as Tory leader.

In response to Mr Thoday’s remarks, a DCMS spokesman said: “The BBC’s funding model needs to be made more sustainable for the future, as it already faces major challenges, including sweeping changes in how people consume media.

“We are committed to reviewing the license fee funding model before the next Charter period to explore the potential for alternative ways of funding the BBC.”

Prior to her short-lived cabinet role, Ms Donelan notably served on the education select committee for three years, before entering government as the whips’ office in 2018.

She then spent three years at the Ministry of Education, first as Minister for Children and Families, then Minister of State for Universities.

In 2021, Ms Donelan was promoted to Minister for Higher and Further Education, served in cabinet in 2021 and was sworn in to the Privy Council.

In her spare time, she enjoys walking her dog Bella in the Wiltshire countryside, according to her official parliamentary biography.