A video of Media and Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries babbling after realizing Channel 4 isn’t paid by taxpayers goes viral.
The Tory Secretary of State confidently suggested before a select committee that it was her job to make sure the British got their money’s worth.
She said: “I would say that just because Channel 4 was established as a public service broadcaster and just because it receives public funds, we should never somehow audit the future of Channel 4 and we should never assess how Channel 4 looks to the future and whether or not it is a sustainable and viable model.
“It is absolutely right that the government is doing this. “
But committee member Damian Green stressed that Channel 4 “is not like the BBC” because it derives its money from commercial operations rather than depending on the money from the license fees of UK residents.
Dorries looked immediately surprised and stammered, “And… So… Although it’s… Yeah… And… That…”.
Hundreds of reactions ensued, with author Emma Kennedy calling the statements “astonishing” and law professor Steve Peers saying Dorries was “painfully unfit for the post she holds”.
“It is fair to correctly evaluate Channel 4”
Dorries added that she had not yet decided whether Channel 4 would be privatized, in light of a consultation with 60,000 responses.
She said: “I think what we do in terms of looking at the future of Channel 4, we do the same (like when we look at the BBC). Is it going to be viable in the long term as a public service broadcaster? And that’s all we do.
“I know there is all this speculation about ‘the decision has been made’ and ‘they are going to privatize Channel 4’ but we are not. We are evaluating the future of Channel 4 and whether it is a sustainable model.
“No decision has been made. When we get to the point of eventually making a decision, when we get to the point of looking at all the evidence, then we can probably have that discussion.
“But for now, I think it’s fair and appropriate that we assess the future of a public service broadcaster.”
She added: “I want to see all the evidence. I want to see a full business evaluation of Channel 4 and I want to see what the future looks like for public service broadcasters.
Related: Channel 4 Warns of ‘Irreversible Damage’ and ‘Different Priorities’ in Privatization Plans