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Whittingdale: Government is mulling sale of Channel 4

Minister says government is questioning whether there is a need for a second publicly-owned PSB.

Former culture secretary John Whittingdale has revealed the government is considering selling Channel 4.

Speaking at event during the Conservative Party Conference, Whittingdale, who is now minister for media and data, said the government is debating a possible sale.

I do think there is a very important debate to be had about Channel 4 because, unlike the BBC, Channel 4 survives without any taxpayer funding as an advertising-funded model,” he said.

“With the advent of the streamers and other competing services that model is under increasing strain and I’m not sure it is sustainable into the future.”

He added: “And so we do need to think about Channel 4 and whether or not there is still a need for a second publicly-owned public service broadcaster or what function it should fulfil, and that’s something we are giving a lot of thought to.”

He also discussed the subject of funding for the UK’s public service broadcasters at an event held by Ofcom.

“One of the issues for debate, in the longer term, not the next year, is the funding,” he said.

“We’ve already begun to see evidence that people are questioning whether they need to pay the licence fee. That means there is going to be a debate about the licence fee but that will be for the end of this decade.”