I would like to reassure you that the Government is 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 over the years in delivering the aims set out at its creation in 1982, including supporting the independent production sector in the UK, delivering diverse and risk-taking content, and contributing to the wider public goals of public service broadcasting. However, since 1982, the TV landscape has changed beyond recognition.
As you might be aware, Channel 4 is entirely commercially funded, but it has been publicly owned since it began broadcasting. The main reason it was set up as a publicly owned, commercially run station was to provide greater choice. Today though, audiences can now watch what they want, whenever 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.
That is why I believe it is crucial that a future ownership model (whereby Channel 4 keeps its public service remit) is considered to ensure more content, more jobs, and a more sustainable future for the broadcaster. To achieve this, it will require access to capital, and a strengthened ability to invest in its services, which is not available under public ownership.
I warmly welcome that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has recently held a public consultation on the future ownership of Channel 4 as part of the Government’s review of public service broadcasting. The consultation considered both the ownership and remit of Channel 4, ensuring its future success and sustainability. I understand that the Department is currently analysing the feedback it has received and will respond in due course. For further information on the consultation, please search: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-a-change-of…
I have also been assured that the review will come ahead of the broadcasting white paper, due to be published in the autumn. The white paper will consider the future of the country’s broadcasting landscape with the aim of making sure it serves listeners and viewers on all platforms and across the entire UK.