Liberal Democrat spokesperson for DCMS, Jamie Stone, has today spoken against the privatisation of British television network Channel 4. This debate has been sparked following the news that the Government is currently consulting on a ‘change of ownership’ for Channel 4 and have stated their preferred option is full sale to private ownership.
As it stands, Channel 4 is a not-for-profit network that reinvests its money back into UK based production companies. Its current model means that the channel does not make any of its own programmes and therefore allows independent producers to maintain intellectual property.
After speaking in the Westminster Hall Debate, Mr Stone commented:
"The model of Channel 4 means that it is exactly what it was set up to be: radical, diverse, and innovative. It doesn't make any of its own shows but instead uses all its earnings to reinvest into UK production companies. It's a not-for-profit network, owned by the people, for the people.
"Before the pandemic, I had the privilege of visiting the NASA base in Florida. When I was there, conversation was littered with British cultural references, demonstrating Channel 4's global reach. Someone even told me that I reminded them of someone from Four Weddings and a Funeral. I'm absolutely certain that she meant Hugh Grant but there may be a chance she meant Rowan Atkinson...
"In all seriousness, it seems to me that the structure of Channel 4 is fool-proof. They were tested by the pandemic and passed with flying colours, finishing 2020 with a significant financial surplus. That meant they were able to repay all their furlough money; they didn't have to take drastic measures taken by other media organisations such as mass lay-offs or pay cuts for junior staff. If the Government wants to 'talk about the future' of Channel 4, they must produce an impact assessment urgently. It begs the question, why fix what isn't broken?"