The government’s plan to privatize Channel 4 “should be rigorously scrutinized by lawmakers and peers from all sides”, its chief content officer has said.
Publicly owned since its creation in 1982 by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government, and funded entirely by advertising, is being sold to the broadcaster as announced earlier by Culture Secretary Nadine Doris.
Speaking at the Wales Screen Summit in Cardiff, Channel 4 Chief Content Officer Ian Katz said in a speech on the “complex and finely balanced ecosystem” of Britain’s public service broadcasting architecture: “Some outside industry – and even That even inside it – it has a firm grasp, and it is hard to accurately predict the consequences of tampering with its fragments.”
“That’s why in the coming months it is important that the government’s plans to privatize Channel 4 are rigorously reviewed by parliamentarians and peers from all sides.
“That they fully understand the hole in British life that would be left if it were given its role in supporting our creative economy, in representing all of Britain, in fostering innovation, in promoting information.” is sold without proper protection, critical thinking and intelligent, open debate.”
The former Newsnight editor cautioned that if the proposed privatization proceeds “without careful protection of its essence”, “the next day after the channel’s sell-off may look a little different”.
“But gradually, a precious part of our natural cultural capital may be lost. Like the proverbial frog in boiling water, we may not understand the cost until it is too late.”
Earlier this week, during Labor’s Opposition Day debate in the Commons, Ms Doris told lawmakers that the government wanted to use the proceeds of the sale to “benefit the whole country”.
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He also claimed that the reason behind the government’s decision to change the channel’s ownership is that “the state cannot own a public service broadcaster that risks borrowing money”.
On how she plans to “benefit the whole country” by selling Channel 4, Ms Doris explained: “Although it is early days, surprisingly, there are already a lot of initials from a wide range of potential bidders.” There has been interest and once the sale is secured it will not only benefit Channel 4. We want to use this money to benefit the entire country.
Mr Katz also responded to Ms Dories’ comments by calling Channel 4 News “edgy” and that the program has sometimes done “no favors” in terms of fairness.
He added: “Ignore Nadine Dorries’ observation before the DCMS selection committee that Channel 4 News ‘did not do itself any favors’ as the government has repeatedly clarified that there was no political score-setting behind its push. The element is not there for privatization.”
Proverb Like a frog in boiling water, we can’t figure out the cost until it’s too lateIan Katzo
In April this year, the government’s white paper took a first look at proposed plans for Channel 4, saying that under public ownership, the broadcaster has limited ability to borrow or raise capital by issuing shares and that its set-up is “effectively”. from creating its own content”, as it is heavily dependent on advertising revenue.
In his speech, Mr Katz referred to Channel 4 News as “the most exclusive – and least commercial – areas” of output and said that “it is very likely that a privatized Channel 4 will provide a different kind of news program”. which we are airing now.”
It is not yet known what will be included in the media bill once it is passed by both houses of parliament, as far as preserving Channel 4’s approval, but based on the white paper, Mr Katz said that It will be “possible to watch Channel 4 makes some of the most exclusive shows and make educated guesses about whether they will appear on a purely profit-driven channel”.
After naming popular Channel 4 comedy series like Dairy Girls and We Are Lady Parts, he said: “If the business you’re in is business, then comedy isn’t good business. Or, you could say, a personalized Channel 4 just isn’t funny.”
A commission was also announced in partnership with S4C for Caradog Pritchard’s novel Un nos ola liad (One Moonlight Night), which would be sung in Welsh and broadcast on British TV.