In a meeting of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden confirmed that Channel 4 could be sold by the end of the current parliament to “provide a sustainable future for the broadcaster”.
Dowden said a sale was not definite but that the “rapidly changing broadcasting landscape”, with the growth of streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, meant wide-ranging changes were possible.
This is part of a government review of public service broadcasting that was announced in October 2020. A 2016 report by the House of Lords urged the government not to sell Channel 4 as its “creativity would be jeopardised” and there would be a strong likelihood that the corporation would be sold to a foreign company.
In 2016, Channel 4 commissioned and funded a report to analyse the potential consequences of its privatisation. The analysis found that privatisation would make the broadcaster “less sustainable” and would “adversely impact independent producers, advertisers, consumers, the wider broadcasting ecology and the creative industries”.
Channel 4 was launched in 1982 as a publicly-owned, commercially-funded public service broadcaster. It does not receive public funding and has a remit to deliver "innovative, alternative content that challenges the status quo". Its most popular shows include Gogglebox, The Great British Bake Off and classic series such as Countdown.