Government launches consultation into privatisation of Channel 4

The Government has launched a public consultation into the privatisation of Channel 4.

The channel, which was founded in 1982 to deliver to under-served audiences, is owned by the Government and receives its funding from advertising.

Potential investors are likely to include big American companies.

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Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden (Yui Mok/PA)

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said the decision to review Channel 4’s ownership structure had been taken because the changing media landscape posed a serious threat to traditional linear broadcasters.

Media minister John Whittingdale previously said “increasing pressure” from streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon Prime had been a factor in the decision.

The DCMS said the 10-week consultation would be seeking “views and supporting evidence” about the economic, social and cultural costs and benefits of releasing Channel 4 from public ownership.

These responses will inform the Government’s ongoing review of public service broadcasting.

The consultation will last for 10 weeks and closes on September 14.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “The media world has changed immeasurably since Channel 4’s creation in the early 1980s, but whilst we have more choice today the need for a strong and successful Channel 4 continues.

“So in the face of rising global competition, now is the right time to strengthen UK public service broadcasters and consider releasing Channel 4 from the constraints of public ownership, enabling it to thrive for the next 40 years and beyond.”

Channel 4 has been owned by the Government since its launch in 1982 and receives its funding from advertising.

The money generated is then used to commission independent producers to make programmes for the channel.

Figures including It’s A Sin writer Russell T Davies and The Thick Of It creator Armando Iannucci have voiced opposition to the potential sale of Channel 4.

The consultation comes ahead of a Government White Paper on the future of broadcasting which is due in the autumn.

It will close on September 14 at 23.45.