A petition to stop the privatisation of Channel 4 has reached over 50,000 signatures.
On Monday (April 4), 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.
She said selling the channel to a private owner would give it “the tools and freedom to flourish and thrive as a public service broadcaster long into the future”.
The government is hoping to raise close to £1billion by selling the channel, with the money potentially being used to boost creative training and independent production companies.
A Change.org petition has been launched in response by E.L McNally to stop the plans, which has received over 50,000 signatures at the time of writing.
— Matt Lucas (@RealMattLucas) April 4, 2022
The petition, which has been shared by Matt Lucas, Edgar Wright and Neil Gaiman, reads: “I am appalled at the Government’s intention to privatise Channel 4.”
It adds: “To privatise Channel 4 would seriously undermine programming aimed at all the communities, across generations, that make up this country. The government has no right to move ahead with a plan that is not in the interest of the viewing public.”
A formal consultation on whether to privatise Channel 4 was launched last year and attracted over 60,000 submissions, which faced fierce opposition from independent TV production companies.
Channel 4, which is state-owned but funded by advertising and not the taxpayer, released a statement on Monday expressing disappointment over the government’s decision to push forward with the plans.
“With over 60,000 submissions to the Government’s public consultation, it is disappointing that today’s announcement has been made without formally recognising the significant public interest concerns which have been raised,” a Channel 4 spokesperson said.
“Channel 4 has engaged in good faith with the Government throughout the consultation process, demonstrating how it can continue to commission much-loved programmes from the independent sector across the UK that represent and celebrate every aspect of British life as well as increase its contribution to society, while maintaining ownership by the public.
“Recently, Channel 4 presented DCMS with a real alternative to privatisation that would safeguard its future financial stability, allowing it to do significantly more for the British public, the creative industries and the economy, particularly outside London.”
They added: “The proposal to privatise Channel 4 will require a lengthy legislative process and political debate. We will of course continue to engage with DCMS, government and parliament and do everything we can to ensure that Channel 4 continues to play its unique part in Britain’s creative ecology and national life.”