The chairman of Channel 4 has warned Boris Johnson’s government not to go down the “high-risk and damaging path” of privatising the broadcaster.
In a letter to tradition secretary Oliver Dowden, Charles Gurassa stated the government dangers “sleepwalking into the irreversible and risky sale of an important, successful and much-loved British institution”.
The government is consulting on plans to privatise Channel 4 – saying final month that transferring the broadcaster into personal possession may guarantee its “future success”.
Mr Gurassa wrote to Mr Dowden: “We look forward to engaging in a constructive dialogue with you … However, we are deeply concerned with the unsubstantiated assertion that a sale of Channel 4 is in the national interest.”
He added: “Without a transparent assessment of the implications of such a decision, the government is in danger of sleepwalking into the irreversible and risky sale of an important, successful and much-loved British institution.”
The channel, which was based in 1982 to ship to under-served audiences, is owned by the government and in addition receives funding from promoting.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) stated the choice to review Channel 4’s possession structure had been taken as a result of the altering media panorama posed a critical menace to conventional broadcasters.
In his letter, Mr Gurassa trumpeted the channel’s monetary well being and stated it has a “clear plan” transferring ahead.
The board stated it shares the government’s ambition for the channel for the reason that organisation “thrives on change … sticking with the status quo is not the modus operandi of Channel 4, and never has been”.
The letter touted the board members’ expertise within the personal sector – however questioned if that was one of the best setting for Channel 4. “It is thriving without any taxpayer support and in addition is delivering a unique range of public obligations and broader economic benefits,” it stated.
The letter additionally states: (*4*)
And Mr Gurassa wrote: “Channel 4 is not an inefficient state-owned monopoly, but an agile, innovative challenger with a public purpose at its heart. It is efficient, well run, and on a sure footing to tackle the future challenges facing the sector.”
A government supply stated: “The Channel 4 model is facing increasing pressure from competition for viewers from high-spending streaming giants and growing pressure on the advertising revenue on which it solely depends.
“We’re looking at reform to protect Channel 4’s long-term future so it can continue serving audiences with great public service content for decades to come.”