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Channel 4 sale plans to be ‘re-examined’, new culture secretary confirms

A potential U-turn on plans to sell the channel could be on the cards.

By Nick Reilly

Channel 4 logo
(Photo: Channel 4)

Government plans to privatise Channel 4 will be revisited, the new Culture Secretary has confirmed, with the channel’s sale being temporarily placed on hold.

Michelle Donelan, who replaced Nadine Dorries as minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in Liz Truss’ first ever cabinet, has said the “business case” for selling the channel will now be re-examined.

“As the Prime Minister said we do need to reexamine the business case and that’s certainly what I am doing,” Ms Donelan told told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“We’re looking especially at the business case for the sale of Channel 4 and making sure we still agree with that decision.”

When asked if she was willing to revisit the policy, Donelan replied: “I’m the type of politician that bases their decisions on evidence, that bases their decisions on listening, and that’s what I will be doing over the coming weeks.

“I will take that approach when it comes to Channel 4 and every aspect of my brief.”

She added: “I will be looking at the business case and announcing in due course.”

It means a U-turn could be on the cards, just months after the idea of selling the channel was initially touted.

In April, ministers concluded after a 10-week public consultation that public ownership risked “holding it back in the face of a rapidly changing and competitive media landscape”.

It was a move spearheaded by then Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, who concluded that a “change of ownership will give Channel 4 the tools and freedom to flourish and thrive as a public service broadcaster long into the future.”

She added: “I will seek to reinvest the proceeds of the sale into levelling up the creative sector, putting money into independent production and creative skills in priority parts of the country – delivering a creative dividend for all.”

Any potential sale would involve the creation of fresh legislation as Channel 4’s status as a publicly owned but commercially funded broadcaster is cemented in law.

The channel receives no Government funding and nothing from the license fee.