Thank you for contacting me about the future of Channel 4.
I would like to start by reassuring you that the Government is committed to the success and sustainability of the UK’s public broadcasting system, of which Channel 4 is a historic and integral part.
As you have outlined in your email, Channel 4 has been hugely successful over the years in delivering the aims that were set out at its creation in 1982. It has helped to support the UK’s independent production sector and delivered diverse and innovative content, amongst other benefits such as assisting the Government’s ‘Levelling Up’ agenda.
You also mention about Channel 4’s unique model, whereby it is entirely commercially funded while still being under public ownership. The rationale for this in the eighties was to provide greater choice for viewers. Today’s market, though, means that audiences can watch whatever they want, whenever they want and how they want across a variety of streaming platforms and devices.
The independent production sector has also grown to supply content to a wide range of broadcasters and streaming services, so they are much less reliant on just one single broadcaster like Channel 4.
That’s why the Government is looking into a different future ownership model, to ensure that Channel 4 can deliver more content, more jobs, and have a more sustainable future. To achieve this, it will require access to capital and a strengthened ability to invest in its services, which is not available while under public ownership.
No decisions have yet been made, as the Government is still analysing the feedback from its recent public consultation on Channel 4’s future ownership model. Furthermore, the Government’s decision-making is being steered by the independent expertise of the Public Service Broadcasting Advisory Panel.
It’s important to note, though, that Channel 4 will keep its public service remit, and I look forward to a future where it continues to produce innovative, thought-provoking content, which serves viewers across the entire country.