The UK Government is to push ahead with plans to privatise Channel 4, It has emerged.  

An email, said to be from Chief Executive Alex Mahon, has been leaked to the media outlining the Government’s plans.  

In the email, Ms Mahon says the decision is “distracting and disruptive”, but calls on staff to continue to stay focused on their jobs. 

A sale of the broadcaster would take more than a year, as the relevant legislation would have to pas through Parliament. 

Privatising Channel 4 has been mooted in the face of competition from streaming services such as Netflix. However, it has been opposed by some independent production companies, who fear adverse effects.  

The Government has been consulting on plans to privatise the broadcaster, which could be sold off to a private buyer, following concerns for its survival in the streaming era. 

The Herald:

The Great British Bake Off has been one of the channels hits 

The decision comes just days after businessman Sir Ian Cheshire was been appointed as the next chairman of Channel 4. 

He will join the broadcaster’s board on Monday April 11, succeeding interim chair and media executive Dawn Airey, watchdog Ofcom announced. 

Sir Ian, 62, served as group chief executive of home improvement company Kingfisher from January 2008 to early 2015. 

Prior to that, he was chief executive of B&Q from 2005. 

Sir Ian said: “I am excited to be joining Channel 4 at this vitally important time for public service broadcasting. 

“As it transforms for a new era of media consumption, I look forward to helping Channel 4 deliver for viewers right across the UK for many years to come.” 

The Herald:

Sir Ian Cheshire

A spokesperson for Channel 4 said it was “disappointed” with the decision but would “continue to engage” with the Government on the process to “ensure that Channel 4 continues to play its unique part in Britain’s creative ecology and national life”.

The statement said: “With over 60,000 submissions to the Government’s public consultation, it is disappointing that today’s announcement has been made without formally recognising the significant public interest concerns which have been raised.

“Channel 4 has engaged in good faith with the Government throughout the consultation process, demonstrating how it can continue to commission much-loved programmes from the independent sector across the UK that represent and celebrate every aspect of British life as well as increase its contribution to society, while maintaining ownership by the public.

“Recently, Channel 4 presented DCMS (the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport) a real alternative to privatisation that would safeguard its future financial stability, allowing it to do significantly more for the British public, the creative industries and the economy, particularly outside London. This is particularly important given that the organisation is only two years into a significant commitment to drive up its impact in the UK’s nations and regions.”

The statement continued: “Channel 4 remains legally committed to its unique public service remit. The focus for the organisation will be on how we can ensure we deliver the remit to both our viewers and the British creative economy across the whole of the UK.

“The proposal to privatise Channel 4 will require a lengthy legislative process and political debate. We will of course continue to engage with DCMS, government and parliament, and do everything we can to ensure that Channel 4 continues to play its unique part in Britain’s creative ecology and national life.”