The British government announced its intention to privatize Channel 4, explaining that it wanted to help it “compete” with streaming giants, but was “disappointed” with the TV channel’s key role in the audiovisual creation in the United Kingdom.
Channel 4 has been government-owned since its inception in 1982, but has received funding from advertising without benefiting from licensing fees such as the BBC. It must reinvest its profits in creation and its rule, in months of debate, is highly followed in cultural circles.
Among Channel 4’s hits, The Great British Back Off, a pastry show or It’s a Sin series that was a significant success while in prison, runs in 11 segments for the next bafta on television.
“Channel 4 holds a special place in British life and I want it to remain that way,” British Culture Minister Nadine Doris tweeted Monday evening. “I have come to the conclusion that government ownership prevents Channel 4 from competing with streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon,” he added.
Considered to be several months old, the privatization of the channel, whose public service purpose is engraved in British law, was the subject of a public consultation launched last July, which received more than 60,000 responses.
“It is disappointing that the announcement (privatization) was made without formally acknowledging the significant public interest concerns addressed,” Channel 4 said in a statement.
Labor opposition MP Lucy Powell, who is in charge of cultural issues, said yesterday that the decision to privatize the channel “makes no sense”.
“Instead of competing with some of the big American streaming giants, they are more likely to be taken over by one of them (the channel),” he told the BBC.
Privatization has not yet been laid, and the government should announce it in parliament in the coming weeks, after which MPs will review and verify the plan.
Members of the ruling Conservative Party, who generally harshly criticize public broadcasting, continue to criticize Channel 4 for being biased, especially since former head of news programs Dorothy Byrne called Boris Johnson a “liar” and “coward” in 2019.
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