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.
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.
The Culture Secretary, after careful consideration and public consultation, has decided that Government ownership is holding Channel 4 back from competing against streaming sites such as Netflix and Amazon. I support this view that a change of ownership will give Channel 4 the freedom to be successful as a public service broadcaster long into the future. I understand further details will be set out in a White Paper in due course and I look forward to reading them.
I am encouraged that the Culture Secretary has also been clear that she will seek to use the proceeds of the sale to level up the creative sector. By investing money into independent production and creative skills in priority parts of the country, this will deliver a creative dividend for all. You may be interested to learn that the UK made more films than Hollywood in the last quarter of 2021 and with many more studios opening in the UK, delivering funding will be key.