The UK government is proceeding with plans to privatise Channel 4, the broadcaster has said.
Multiple reports have cited an email sent by Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon to staff this afternoon (4 April) informing them of the government's intention to move ahead with a proposal made last year.
According to a BBC News source, ministers believe public ownership of the broadcaster is holding it back 'in the face of a rapidly changing and competitive media landscape.'
The change, which would easily be the most drastic in the channel's 40-year history, is hoped to remove the 'straitjacket' and give it '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,' the source added.
A Channel 4 spokesperson said (as per the Evening Standard): "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.
"The proposal to privatise Channel 4 will require a lengthy legislative process and political debate."
The spokesperson explained how Channel 4 recently presented the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) with '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," they 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.
"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.”
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Topics: TV and Film