The UK government is going ahead with its plan to privatise Channel 4.
According to The Times, the broadcaster could be sold off for around £1 billion.
In a series of tweets, the UK’s culture secretary Nadine Dorries said she has come to the conclusion that “government ownership is holding Channel 4 back from competing against streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon”.
“A change of ownership will give Channel 4 the tools and freedom to flourish and thrive as a public service broadcaster long into the future. I will set out the future plan for Channel 4 in a White Paper in due course,” added Dorries.
The broadcaster has released a statement reacting to the news, stating it had presented the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport with an alternative to privatisation that would safeguard Channel 4’s “future financial stability, allowing it to do significantly more for the British public, the creative industries and the economy, particularly outside London”.
“This is particularly important given that the organisation is only two years into a significant commitment to drive up its impact in the UK’s Nations and Regions,” added the statement.
“The proposal to privatise Channel 4 will require a lengthy legislative process and political debate,” it continued. “We will of course continue to engage with DCMS, government and parliament, and do everything we can to ensure that Channel 4 continues to play its unique part in Britain’s creative ecology and national life.”
Much of the UK TV industry has been against the idea of privatisation. An independent report by EY released last autumn found that a privately-owned version of the broadcaster could adversely impact jobs in the supply chain with a 26 per cent decline overall.
Channel 4’s chief content officer Ian Katz previously said that any privatisation of the organisation will ‘destroy the essence of the UK broadcaster’.
Companies reportedly interested in purchasing Channel 4 include ITV, Sky, Amazon, Netflix and Discovery.