19th Oct, 2017

MP 'not surprised' by debate on C4 future

Joshua Godfrey 2nd Oct, 2015 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

EVESHAM’S MP has admitted he is not surprised privatisation is one of the options being considered for Channel 4 after a civil servant was pictured holding confidential briefing papers.

Nigel Huddleston, who sits on the influential Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said the Government was considering a range of options on the future of the terrestrial channel.

A photographer tweeted a picture he took of an official holding a document headed ‘Assessment of Channel 4 Corporation Reform Options,’ information that wasn’t supposed to be made public.

Launched in 1982, Channel 4 is publicly owned and ran independently of government, but is commercially self-funded through the likes of advertising and programme sponsorship.

“I understand that the government is considering a range of options and I am not surprised that privatisation is one of them, but that does not mean it is the preferred or most likely option,” Mr Huddleston said.

“Channel 4 has a unique remit focused on innovation, diversity and supporting new talent – and whether in public or private hands that remit will likely continue.

The Mid Worcestershire MP has already quizzed the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport John Whittingdale on the role Channel 4 plays in British broadcasting when he appeared before the committee.

However, it’s likely reform of the broadcaster will be discussed again in a few weeks time when Channel 4 executives appear before MPs.

“The not-for-profit model that requires no public subsidy seems to work quite well at the moment,” he added.

“Whether Channel 4 is privatised or not will no doubt come down to balancing the potential revenue raised from a sale against the viability of maintaining it’s unique remit in private or partially private hands.”

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