The UK government is set to abandon its previous plans to sell off Channel 4. The broadcaster will remain in public ownership but with greater commercial flexibility, increased investment in skills and jobs across the UK, as well as new production arrangements to support its long-term sustainability and growth.
“Channel 4 is a British success story and a linchpin of our booming creative industries. After reviewing the business case and engaging with the relevant sectors, I have decided that Channel 4 should not be sold,” commented Michelle Donelan, UK’s Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport of the UK has decided that pursuing a sale is not the best option to ease the competitive challenges facing Channel 4 nor to support growth in the UK’s creative economy, especially the independent production sector. However, according to the DCMS, doing nothing also carries risks and the government believes change is necessary to ensure the corporation can thrive now and long into the future in a rapidly changing media landscape.
Following discussions with Channel 4 and the independent production sector, the government confirmed an ambitious package of measures as an alternative to a sale. This includes reforms via the Media Bill which will eventually allow Channel 4 to make and own some of its content and a new statutory duty on its board members to protect the broadcaster’s long-term financial sustainability. Channel 4 has also committed to increasing roles outside London and providing more opportunities for people from across the UK to gain experience in the sector as part of this package.
According to the government, the recently announced package will ensure the broadcaster remains focused on sustainability and has new opportunities to grow while serving audiences in the decades to come with high-quality, innovative and distinctive content.
“This announcement will bring huge opportunities across the UK with Channel 4’s commitment to double their skills investment to £10 million and double the number of jobs outside of London. The package will also safeguard the future of our world leading independent production sector. We will work closely with them to add new protections such as increasing the amount of content C4C must commission from independent producers,” Donelan added.