The UK government has confirmed officially that Channel 4 will no longer be privatised, in a U-turn from the proposals set out by the previous administration; Pact subsequently issued a statement reacting to the news.
The former culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, had said that government ownership was “holding Channel 4 back” but her successor, Michelle Donelan, has confirmed that the broadcaster will not be sold, although is also proposing other reforms.
Trade association Pact has issued a statement about the decision, set out below:
“Pact welcomes the Government’s decision not to move forward with the sale of Channel 4. The proposals set out by the previous Government would have been detrimental to British SMEs across the UK, but particularly smaller indies based in the Nations and Regions.
“However, we are disappointed that the Government will be relaxing Channel 4’s publisher-broadcaster status and permitting Channel 4 to produce its own programmes in-house. Our main opposition to privatisation was the proposals around in-house production. Any relaxation of Channel 4’s publisher-broadcaster status will be a blow to the sector, who are already facing increased production and business related costs.
“We have made clear the impact in-house production will have on indies across the UK and the wider creative economy. However, Pact is encouraged that the Government is committed to working with the indie sector to ensure the changes to the publisher-broadcaster status do not adversely impact the sector.
“It’s vital that there are suitable safeguards in place and Pact will be working closely with the Secretary of State and DCMS officials on these safeguards.”
Commenting on the Government’s decision, Pact chair, Jane Muirhead, said: “Whilst it is clearly the right decision by the Government to reverse the privatisation of Channel 4, the decision to allow Channel 4 to produce its own in-house programming has the potential to achieve the same damaging outcome if there are not effective protections put in place.
“Pact will be meeting with Government and working closely with them to ensure that the right safeguards are established to protect the UK’s successful world-class indie sector.”