Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow has said he is “not opposed” to the broadcaster’s possible privatisation, after the Government inadvertently revealed its proposals.
Leaked documents yesterday suggested that the Government is looking to sell off the public broadcaster to private owners.
The “official – sensitive: commercial” document, dated September 24 2015, noted there has been a recent meeting between Cabinet Office Minister Matthew Hancock and two unnamed secretaries of state, with the phrases “extracting greater public value” and “focusing on privatisation options in particular” clearly visible.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Media said no decision had been taken regarding the “reform of Channel 4”.
Chairman Lord Burns is now exploring future options for the broadcaster, but privatisation is not thought to be one of them.
Ministers have been accused of plotting to privatise Channel 4, after a photographer appeared to catch someone walking into Downing Street clutching documents detailing discussions about the station’s sell-off. Privatising the channel could help the government to reduce the budget deficit – similar measures are being considered for the BBC, which has sparked a heated debate ahead of its next charter renewal.
A Channel 4 spokesman said: ‘Channel 4’s not-for-profit model enables it to deliver significant public value to viewers and the United Kingdom economy with a unique remit focussed on innovation, diversity and new talent’.
The channel’s chief executive David Abraham has previously warned that running Channel 4 for profit would mean cutting the money spent on TV programmes by a third – making it more like Channel 5.
It’s emerged that the UK Government is considering the sale of Channel 4 as it looks to pay down the country’s debt.
Channel 4 launched in 1982, to provide a fourth television service to Britain, alongside BBC1, BBC2 and ITV.
“But regarding the selling-off of the channel, a Conservative source told the Guardian: “[Culture Secretary] John Whittingdale is interested and wants to do it”.
The documents were shown on the Twitter feed of freelance photographer Steve Back who later tweeted: “For the last six years I have been telling these public servants to cover up”.