The Government has said that competition from online streaming services and changes to advertising has put Channel 4’s funding viability under pressure. They launched a consultation into ownership, which closed recently. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has said that new media has necessitated a change of ownership for “investment opportunities” and “releasing Channel 4 from the constraints of public ownership”. This sounds like textbook Thatcherism to me, selling off our valued national institutions and cultural assets under the guise of financial viability. There is also an argument to be made about Channel 4’s criticism and reporting on government being a motivation for the Tories to change ownership.
Channel 4 is not just a commercial television network or streaming service like Sky or Netflix. It was created with a public purpose. I agree with pro-public ownership campaigners that Channel 4 does not need to spend millions to compete with big media organisations, but to be supported to do what it does best: creating quintessentially British content that represents British culture in all its diversity. I will be opposing privatisation of Channel 4.