Privatising Channel 4 would be a mistake. The channel would take fewer risks, and the BBC would suffer too. The diversity of our television is its strengthby Christopher Hird / August 1, 2007 / Leave a comment
Published in August 2007 issue of Prospect Magazine
There is a widely circulating rumour in television circles that the government plans to privatise Channel 4. It may not be definite yet, but ministers and officials are certainly talking about it—over the last few months, I’ve heard the claim from two of them. This is how the idea goes: Channel 4 no longer fulfils any important public service broadcasting function. As a result of the competition for advertising from other television channels, the internet and elsewhere, Channel 4 will soon face a financial crisis and will need public money (at the moment it gets none, although it is ultimately owned by the government, and its chair is appointed by Ofcom). So why not sell it off now and spend the money elsewhere in arts and culture? The BBC can be left to deliver public service broadcasting objectives.
A typical conversation about the future of Channel 4 goes like this:
Channel 4 critic: Big Brother
Channel 4 supporter: Shameless
Critic: How Clean is Your House?