The culture secretary is expected to outline what he claims are the benefits of privatizing Channel 4, saying the “much needed investment” will help the broadcaster compete with streaming services like Netflix and Amazon.
In a speech to the Royal Television Society Convention today, Oliver Dowden will acknowledge the channel is currently ‘in a stable position’ but will say it needs more money if it is to grow.
“Without this, Channel 4 won’t have the money to invest in technology and programming, and it won’t be able to compete with the streaming giants,” He will say.
Mr Dowden is expected to say the money can come “on the backs of the taxpayer” or from private investment.
“It’s my strong position – as a point of principle – that I don’t believe a commercial TV loan should be secured by a grandmother in Stockport or Southend,” he will say. he.
The network recently announced its best annual results after a recovery in ad revenue and reduced spending left it in a strong financial position.
Mr Dowden will recall that Channel 4’s status as a public service broadcaster will be protected in the event of a sale.
He said the network would continue to reflect modern Britain and maintain its commitment to independent news and current affairs, as well as commissioning programs from the independent production sector.
“Channel 4 can continue to do what it does best: fund risky, original content – the kind of content you wouldn’t get anywhere else – and showcase the best of this country on free-to-air TV,” a- he declared. will add.
His comments follow warnings from Channel 4 that there is “no evidence” that its privatization will benefit the British public and could in fact “harm them”.
The government is consulting on plans to privatize the broadcaster, which could be sold to a private buyer.
Channel 4 is state-owned but receives no public funding, with over 90% of its revenue coming from advertising.
“Evidence suggests that maintaining public ownership of Channel 4 would create the right conditions not only to overcome the viewership and competitive challenges which the government has correctly identified, but also to ensure that public service broadcasting in the UK continues to thrive,” the network said. in its submission to the consultation.
Transferring Channel 4 to private ownership could result in “reduced diversity and quality of content for UK viewers”, the broadcaster said.
The network accused the consultation of failing to identify alternatives that would strengthen it, such as updating public service prominence legislation to apply to all digital platforms and revising relationships trade between platforms and publishers.