Ross-on-Wye’s MP Jesse Norman quizzed the secretary of state’s office last week, on the privatisation of Channel 4.
Earlier this month, the Gazette reported on Mr Norman’s letter to the 1922 committee calling for prime minister Boris Johnson’s resignation. What was noteworthy about his letter over others’ was that it wasn’t just the “Partygate” scandal that was the basis for his letter, but a plethora of issues which were at odds with the wellbeing of the country and not fitting within the conservative ideology. One of the many points was on the privatisation of Channel 4, where he called it: “an unnecessary and unprovoked attempt to address a political non-issue during a time of crisis, at significant cost to the independent UK film and TV industry.”
In one of his submitted questions to the secretary of state for digital, culture, media, and sport, Nadine Dorries, Mr Norman asked: “In what way her department intends to treat the revenue from any sale of Channel 4.”
The written answer said that the government will look to use some of the proceeds from the sale of Channel 4 to deliver a new creative dividend for the independent production sector.
Mr Norman also asked what the department’s valuation is of Channel 4 as of 9 June 2022 and on what assumptions that valuation has been made; to which the response was: “Channel 4 has a strong reputation for innovative and diverse content, a proactive strategy to be a digital first provider, and huge popularity with a range of audiences, including valuable younger audiences. The government expects this will appeal to a broad range of different purchasers. As with the sale of any government asset, any sale of Channel 4 will involve a careful assessment process to ensure value for money for the taxpayer.”
A part of the long-term idea seems to be for it to compete with digital providers such as Netflix and Disney Plus. However the digital broadcast space has already proven to be competitive and turbulant with a sudden and seemingly unstopable riuse of Disney Plus, which has cut into Netflix’s projections. Shares of Netflix cratered more than 25 per cent on earlier this year after the company reported a loss of 200,000 subscribers during the first quarter. It was the the first time the streamer has reported a subscriber loss in more than a decade. The streaming giant blamed increased competition among other reasons. Channel 4 may struggle if it has no other choice but to comepte directly with other streaming giants.