Following media minister John Whittingdale’s comments that the government is again considering selling Channel 4, reports now suggest a “deep-pocketed investor” could be brought in to help the broadcaster fight against the shift to streaming, as well as the advertising revenues drop brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Sunday Telegraph, ministers are “laying the groundwork” for a review of Channel 4 that could lead to all or part of it being sold-off.
The paper quotes an unnamed source as stating “an owner, or part-owner, with deep pockets that is willing to invest is really valuable.”
It suggests privatisation could lead to a complete takeover by a rival such as Channel 5.
Ministers are also said to be mulling scrapping the public service obligations on ITV and Channel 5, which include obligations around news and other public service programming.
Earlier this year Sky called on Ofcom to think “radically” about the PSB model, arguing that the current model sees ITV and Channel 5 take more from “in-kind subsidies” and “government support” than they provide in value to viewers. It called the model “no longer fit for purpose,” urging the regulator to move towards more targeted and open interventions.