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Channel 4 lays out alternative to privatisation

Broadcaster suggests creating an intellectual property joint venture proposition with an external investor as majority shareholder

Channel 4 has unveiled a plan that would keep it independent.

4: The Next Episode is alternative to the UK government’s plans to sell-off the broadcaster, detailed in last week’s white paper.

It includes the idea of creating an intellectual property joint venture proposition with an external investor as majority shareholder, which would see a significant private capital investment into Channel 4 for the first time.

The document sets out a radical shift in the way Channel 4 works, such as:

  • Significantly enhancing Channel 4’s scale and sustainability for the long term, making Channel 4 stronger, more digital and more global – while actually increasing our public contribution
  • As an organisation that is able to prioritise purpose over profit, the broadcaster wants to increase its public contribution in order to spread more opportunity across the country, both on and off screen and throughout our supply chain
  • These proposals will support the creation of more distinctive British IP and provide the means to export that globally – supporting jobs in the UK, and Britain’s brand overseas, said Channel 4
  • This plan would help to level up the creative sector, creating new jobs and opportunities for ordinary people, right across the UK
  • Supporting more SMEs in the broadcaster’s supply chain through increased content investment, and increasing investment in the Nations and Regions to further drive SME development in the wider creative economy outside London

“This cohesive strategy and plan under public ownership will ensure that Channel 4 can thrive for the next 40 years,” adds the document.

Other proposals include Channel 4 becoming a “Northern-based broadcaster” as well as a new global proposition, named Global All4.

“We propose leveraging significant new private capital for the first time, to bring £1 billion of new British investment in British content by 2030,” added the document. “This would strengthen Channel 4’s commercially funded, free-to-air model and increase our scale and contribution to British cultural life.

“Retaining Channel 4 in public ownership would ensure that additional revenues are focused on maximising public purpose over profit, to the benefit of viewers, the creative economy and our public owners.”

Speaking about the company’s plans, CEO Alex Mahon said:There is much to applaud in the government’s White Paper and they have clearly thought about some of the issues that we collectively face. In fact, we agree with Government on a number of things. The UK broadcasting industry does face immense challenges; that it’s vitally important to do everything we all can to ensure that audiences can continue to enjoy great British content that represents, reflects and celebrates in the incredible diversity of this nation; and that we nurture a successful independent production sector.

“However, the White Paper proposes some significant changes to the Channel 4 model and to its role as a key institution as part of the UK creative industries landscape. We also recognise that standing still in this ever-changing world is not an option. We developed a new vision, 4: The Next Episode, which represents our vision of what more Channel 4 can be and can do, while continuing to be owned by the British people.”