Entertainment

UK producers urge new prime minister to reconsider Channel 4 privatisation

The Government announced plans in April to take the broadcaster out of public ownership.

Production companies in the UK have signed an open letter to Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss calling on them to halt Government plans to privatise Channel 4.

More than 750 independent production companies have joined together to urge the future prime minister to “reconsider plans to privatise” the broadcaster.

The Government announced plans earlier this year to take the Channel out of public ownership so that it can better survive in a media landscape dominated by the likes of Netflix and Amazon.

The letter, organised trade body Pact, said: “As independent TV and film production companies, we are deeply concerned about the plans in their current form.

“We know first-hand how Channel 4’s unique commissioning model has helped thousands of independent production companies get off the ground, and contributed to building a thriving sector.

“Current plans could have a devastating impact not only on these production companies, but also on the country’s levelling-up efforts.”

The letter suggested that shifting to in-house production would lead to a loss of £4.2 billion in the independent film and TV sector over the next decade.

It added that production companies outside of London would be hit hard as current plans will see a cut to the level of spend required from Channel 4 in the nations and regions.

Conservative leadership bid
Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

It added: “In the current economic climate of high inflation, the rising cost of living, widespread strike action and public services trying to rebuild from the pandemic, now is the time to focus on more pressing challenges than the unpopular privatisation of a beloved broadcaster.

“We recognise that Channel 4 is not perfect, just like every other organisation.

“However, taking forward privatisation plans in their current form would damage a thriving independent sector, deter voters, and endanger Margaret Thatcher’s legacy.

“We strongly urge you to reconsider these plans.

“We look forward to working with your Government over the coming months to ensure that Channel 4 can continue to support a thriving independent TV and film production sector.”

The new Prime Minister will be unveiled on Monday, appointed by Conservative Party members, after Boris Johnson resigned in July.

Channel 4, which is celebrating its 40th birthday this year, was the most successful broadcaster at the Edinburgh TV awards this year as it claimed six of the 20 prizes.