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Whittingdale: Merging ITV and Channel 4 “an interesting possibility”

Minister in charge of the consultation on the future of Channel 4 was speaking to the DCMS Committee

The UK minister overseeing the government’s consultation on whether Channel 4 should be privatised has said the idea of merging the broadcaster with ITV is an “interesting possibility”.

Whittingdale was speaking to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee when chairman Julian Knight suggested options could include a merger with ITV or BBC Worldwide – the commercial arm of the BBC.

According to the Press Association, Whittingdale responded that the government “maintains a completely open mind” about the future of the broadcaster but did note Knight had raised a “number of interesting possibilities”.

Knight went on to say that the idea was his personal view, but added, “The recovery of Channel 4 and the evolving media landscape warrants close consideration of privatisation and sale.”

“Would the minister agree with me that it would be a good juncture to also consider whether Channel 4 could be bolstered by a potential merger with ITV or even hive off BBC Worldwide – the commercial arm of the BBC, which has often underperformed but has tremendous international potential to build scale for Channel 4?” asked Knight.

Whittingdale responded responded by saying the government has so far reached “no conclusion” as to the future ownership of Channel 4.

“We maintain a completely open mind but he raises a number of interesting possibilities and we are looking forward to seeing what submissions we receive as part of the consultation,” added Whittingdale.