The new culture secretary, Michelle Donelan, has said she will “re-examine the business case” for privatising Channel 4.
Earlier this year (April 4), previous culture secretary Nadine Dorries tweeted her intentions to privatise the broadcaster under the belief that government ownership is “holding Channel 4 back” from competing against streaming platforms.
A Change.org petition was launched in response to stop the plans, which has received almost 500,000 signatures at the time of writing.
Donelan told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme she was “making sure that we still agree with that decision” (per BBC News).
“As the prime minister said, we do need to re-examine the business case and that’s certainly what I’m doing. We’re looking especially at the business case for the sale of Channel 4 and we’re making sure that we still agree with that decision.”
She added: “I’m the type of politician that bases their decisions on evidence, that bases their decisions on listening, and that’s what I’ll be doing over the coming weeks.”
Donelan, who took over at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) as part of new Prime Minister Liz Truss’ wave of cabinet announcements, said it was “no secret” that she had “been a sceptic for a long time of the [BBC] licence fee”.
The culture secretary said that the BBC‘s “unique” coverage of the death and funeral of the Queen had reaffirmed the importance of making the corporation “sustainable”.
“For me that means it’s even more important to make sure the BBC is sustainable in the long-term,” she said. “When you look at platforms like Amazon, like Netflix, it makes you question whether in the modern-age, when the media landscape is changing so remarkably, that it is sustainable. We need to ask that question.”
She added: “The prime minister spoke in the [leadership] campaign about the importance of decriminalising not paying the licence fee – we know that it particularly impacts women. We know the ramifications of that.
“These are big, big issues that we should be questioning and looking at again.”
Back in June it was reported that Idris Elba has been in talks to back a £1billion bid for Channel 4.
According to The Sunday Times, the actor was in discussions with entrepreneur Marc Boyan, the founder and CEO of marketing and communications firm The Miroma Group.
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