Yvonne Fovargue MP: Channel 4 should not be sold off

I firmly oppose the Government’s plan to privatise Channel 4.

Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue
Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue

Great British TV belongs in the UK, and I do not wish to see Channel 4 lost to the highest bidder.

For nearly four decades, Channel 4 has created an endless list of brilliant, progressive, and world-leading programmes.

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It is a British success story established to provide distinctive output and to drive forward growth in the independent TV production sector.

It has far exceeded these goals.

Additionally, its sharp, challenging, diverse and entertaining programming appeals to a wider and younger audience.

Channel 4 is owned by the state but run on a commercial basis with a remit to reinvest its profits in new programmes.

The Government announced a Media Bill in its forthcoming parliamentary agenda which will allow it to privatise Channel 4.

I believe this is the wrong priority.

It may well be right occasionally to review the make-up of Channel 4, but I do not believe there is any solid evidence behind the decision to press ahead with proposals for privatisation.

Indeed, Channel 4 has just had one of its best financial years on record and has reported an increase in viewing figures across all its platforms.

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The Government says Channel 4 needs to adapt because of competition from streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon.

I believe this misses the point.

Channel 4 was created to be different, diverse and daring, and to champion under-represented voices.

It does not need to spend millions to compete, it needs to do what it does best and create fundamentally British content that speaks to and represents

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British audiences.

Privatising Channel 4 is more likely to allow big streaming companies to buy up the channel for their own aims, and Channel 4’s news productions

and documentaries would be at risk.

Additionally, selling off Channel 4 makes no economic sense, costing jobs and opportunities across the UK.

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Currently, Channel 4 serves the public interest without costing the British taxpayer a penny.

Its profit is reinvested into British programmes, supporting a pipeline of independent, small production companies and new talents.

I am concerned by the consequences of privatisation for our world-renowned creative sector.

Detailed proposals to sell the broadcaster were due to be published this month as part of a wider piece of legislation ensuring scrutiny could begin in parliament but recent media reports suggest that the matter could be shelved until such time as a new Conservative Prime Minister is in Downing St.

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I remain firmly of the view that a not-for-profit, publicly owned C4 currently offers the taxpayer and the UK creative industries much better value than it being sold off.