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Angus Robertson: Privatisation of Channel 4 is unnecessary and ill-conceived

Angus Robertson: Privatisation of Channel 4 is unnecessary and ill-conceived
The Scottish Government’s culture secretary said the decision was disappointing for the creative sector which had thrived with the channel’s help.

The privatisation of Channel 4 is “unnecessary and ill-conceived”, Angus Robertson has said.

Mr Robertson, the Scottish Government’s culture secretary, said the broadcaster’s creativity will be diluted by privatisation.

His comments follow confirmation that Channel 4 will be sold off under plans by the UK Government.

While Channel 4 has been publicly owned since it was founded in 1982, it is funded by advertising.

Channel 4 will be privatised under plans by the UK Government. (PA)
Channel 4 will be privatised under plans by the UK Government. (PA)

Mr Robertson said: “This unnecessary and ill-conceived plan strikes a blow at the heart of public sector broadcasting at a time when it has shown beyond measure its value during the pandemic.

“This decision has been widely opposed in the media sector as well as in the vast majority of submissions to the UK Government’s own consultation.

“Critics have pointed out that privatisation will dilute Channel 4’s focus on creativity and public benefit substituting this for a focus on commercial shareholders.

“It is not the way to secure Channel 4’s continued success and contribution to the UK’s creative industries.

It is not the way to secure Channel 4’s continued success and contribution to the UK’s creative industries

Angus Robertson

“In particular, this will be disappointing news to the independent production sector which has flourished with Channel 4’s help including £200 million for Scottish-based productions and support for 400 jobs since 2007.

“In Scotland, this decision comes at the very time that the channel has strengthened its content spend, investment and links to Scottish creative businesses through its creative hub in Glasgow with high-value drama series, such as Screw, filmed at Kelvin Hall.”

Mr Robertson previously wrote to Oliver Dowden, Westminster’s culture secretary, to oppose Channel 4’s privatisation.

Plans for the sale will reportedly be set out in a White Paper later in April and will be included in a new Media Bill for spring 2023.

Former Scottish Conservative leader, Ruth Davidson, also condemned the broadcaster’s sale.

In a tweet, Ms Davidson said: “Channel 4 is publicly owned, not publicly funded.

“It doesn’t cost the tax payer a penny. It also, by charter, commissions content but doesn’t make/own its own.

“It’s one of the reasons we have such a thriving indy sector in places like Glasgow. This is the opposite of levelling up.”

Channel 4 said it is “disappointed” at the Government’s decision to proceed with privatisation plans without “formally recognising the significant public interest concerns which have been raised.”