Channel 4 battle looms as UK government confirms ownership review

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Channel Four bosses reacted angrily to confirmation the UK government is considering a sale of the state-owned broadcaster.

Tighter regulation of streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime plus Channel 4’s future will be part of a review into UK broadcasting, the government confirmed today.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said the review would look at whether moving Channel 4 into private ownership and changing its remit would benefit it in future.

Views will also be sought about whether streaming groups should be subject to similar rules as the traditional “linear” broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV and Sky to protect viewers.

Oliver Dowden, Digital Secretary, said: “Technology has transformed broadcasting but the rules protecting viewers and helping our traditional channels compete are from an analogue age.

“The time has come to look at how we can unleash the potential of our public service broadcasters while also making sure viewers and listeners consuming content on new formats are served by a fair and well-functioning system.”

Channel 4 is commercially funded but has been state-owned since it started broadcasting in 1992.

More than 90% of Channel 4’s revenue comes from advertising, which makes it particularly vulnerable to market fluctuations and the decline in linear TV advertising spend, said DCMS

Reports last week suggested the government is considering a private of the whole broadcaster or a minority stake, a flotation or the channel becoming mutually owned.

Channel 4 bosses however said the move comes just as the station produced its best ever results with lower spending bolstering its finances.

The review will form part of a broadcasting white paper expected in the autumn.

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