Channel 4 sale tipped to raise more than £1BN in biggest privatisation since Royal Mail | UK | News | #government | #hacking | #cyberattack

In a controversial move, the Government has pushed ahead with the privatisation of the channel despite the broadcaster urging to keep it under public ownership.

The channel will reportedly be sold off by the Government for at least £1billion in the biggest privatisation in nine years – since the Royal Mail went private.

The move risks the channel, considered by some as a pillar of UK culture, falling into the hands of streaming platforms such as Netflix or Amazon Prime.

The new flagship Media Bill, set to be discussed in the Queen’s speech next month, will enable ministers to sell the channel ahead of the next election.

It comes after a series of clashes between the Tories and Channel 4 ahead of the 2019 election.

In the same year, Dorothy Byrne – Channel 4’s boss – branded Boris Johnson a “known liar” and “coward” and compared him to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a conversation at a TV festival.

Similarly, Channel 4’s former lead presenter Jon Snow was filmed screaming “f*** the Toris” at Glastonbury in 2017.

A Government source told the BBC: “Ministers have decided that, although Channel 4 as a business is currently performing well, government ownership is holding it back in the face of a rapidly changing and competitive media landscape.

“Channel 4 is a great business with a strong brand built around it being creative, innovative and distinctive, but a change of ownership will remove its straitjacket, giving Channel 4 the freedom to innovate and grow so it can flourish and thrive long into the future and support the whole of the UK creative industries.”

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They added that there needed to be a “lengthy legislative process and political debate”, saying: “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.”

Lucy Powell, Labour’s shadow culture secretary, criticised the decision, saying: “Selling off Channel 4, which doesn’t cost the taxpayer a penny anyway, to what is likely to be a foreign company, makes absolutely no sense. It will cost jobs and opportunities in the North and Yorkshire, and hit the wider British creative economy.”

Channel 4 was founded in 1982 under Margaret Thatcher’s reign and was created to deliver to under-served audiences and act as a disruptor to the BBC and ITV.

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