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Channel 4 privatisation sparks Tory backlash as ministers accused of ‘throwing red meat to right-wing voters’

The authorities is dealing with a backlash from senior Conservatives over its plan to privatise Channel 4, as Boris Johnson was warned that Margaret Thatcher wouldn’t have tried such a transfer.

The contentious determination to unload the public-owned broadcaster has sparked outrage from opposition events, prime Tory backbenchers and main media figures.

Channel 4’s former head of information and present affairs mentioned the transfer was designed to “throw a bit of red meat to Tory supporters of a very right-wing nature at a time that the government is in trouble”.

Dorothy Byrne instructed Times Radio: (*4*)

Senior Tory figures Jeremy Hunt, Baroness Ruth Davidson, Damien Green and Tom Tugendhat had been amongst these talking out towards the plan, confirmed by tradition secretary Nadine Dorries on Monday.

Baroness Davidson, the previous Scottish Tory celebration chief, identified that Channel 4 is “publicly owned, not publicly funded” and “doesn’t cost the tax payer a penny”.

She mentioned Channel 4 had helped create a thriving unbiased sector outdoors of London. “This is the opposite of levelling up,” the Tory peer mentioned of the plan.

Former cupboard minister Jeremy Hunt mentioned he had by no means thought-about privatising the channel throughout his time as tradition secretary: “I’m not in favour of it,” he instructed Sky News.

He added: “Channel 4 provides competition to the BBC on public service broadcasting, the kinds of programmes that are not commercially viable. And I think it would be a shame to lose that.”

Senior Tory backbencher Tom Tugendhat instructed Times Radio he was “pretty doubtful” about controversial the transfer. “I remain to be convinced this is going to achieve the aim the government has set out.”

Tory MP Sir Peter Bottomley mentioned he additionally opposed the privatisation since it could be “bad for the diversity of television, bad for viewers and bad for independent producers”.

Former cupboard minister Damian Green mentioned the concept was “very unconservative” – mentioning that “[Margaret] Thatcher, who created it, never made that mistake”.

Ms Byrne mentioned Ms Dorries “doesn’t know very much about the broadcasting sector”. The former Channel 4 information boss additionally mentioned Ms Thatcher “invented Channel 4 in order to invent the independent production company sector which has made billions for this country”.

The sell-off is anticipated to type half of a draft Media Bill to be unveiled on the Queen’s speech – setting out the forthcoming agenda for Boris Johnson’s authorities – subsequent month.

Ms Dorries added in a tweet that she wished the broadcaster to stay a “cherished place in British life” – however felt that authorities possession was “holding Channel 4 back from competing against streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon”.

A authorities supply instructed The Independent that the sale would type half of reforms “to modernise and sustain” the general public service broadcasting sector – however was met with dismay by Channel 4.

A spokesperson for the broadcaster mentioned it was “disappointed” with the choice however would “continue to engage” with the federal government to guarantee Channel 4 “continues to play its unique part” in Britain’s artistic life.

Channel 4 chief govt Alex Mahon mentioned “there will now be a long process ahead”, writing to employees in an inner that it may take 18 months or extra for the required laws to cross by way of parliament.

Labour described the plan as “cultural vandalism” and warned it could value the sector jobs within the north of England.

Shadow tradition secretary Lucy Powell instructed BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It doesn’t make any sense – I can’t find many people are in favour of it.”

She added: “I think it will cause a great deal of damage to jobs and opportunities in the creative industries, especially in Leeds and Bristol, and Manchester, and outside of London.”

However, former Tory chief William Hague mentioned Channel 4’s privatisation might be an excellent factor, following studies that the federal government is in search of £1bn from the sale.

“It partly depends what you do with the money,” he instructed Times Radio. “If this raises a billion pounds, and it’s meant to go to support creative industries, as part of our levelling up agenda. Well, if that’s spent effectively, that will be a good thing.”

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