Channel 4: Industry united, but Government putting ideology before facts

15 September 2021

In our efforts to campaign against the privatisation of Channel 4, Bectu have submitted a response to the government’s consultation on a change of ownership for the public broadcaster.

However, overnight the news emerged that the Government has already approved JP Morgan to advise on the future of Channel 4. This is extremely disappointing and adds further fuel to the belief that the government has already made its decision, regardless of the consultation responses and the vocal opposition from the industry in recent months.

Commenting on this news, Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said:

“The ink is barely dry on consultation responses, and the government has ramped up its briefing war against Channel 4 and has already appointed JP Morgan to advise on its future.

“The whole industry is united in its opposition to the proposed sale of this highly successful publicly-owned national asset, but the government has no time for facts, preferring to put ideology ahead of sense.”

The facts

Bectu strongly opposes proposals to take Channel 4 out of the public’s hands, a move we believe would prioritise the interests of shareholders ahead of public service. You can read our full consultation response here.

Channel 4’s unique remit supports a thriving independent production sector, directly investing £12 billion into the UK production industry, and creating 10,000 jobs in the supply chain, 1/3 of these being in the nations and regions. It is a completely self-sustaining broadcaster, that invests 100% of its revenue back into the organisation, at no cost to the taxpayer.

The government is yet to explain or present any evidence that a change in ownership would benefit both Channel 4 or the public.

Financially, Channel 4 is thriving, with 2021 revenues expected to hit a record £1 billion, a growth of 19% from 2020. Last year, Channel 4 recorded a £74 million pre-tax surplus, with net cash reserves of £201 million, with digital advertising revenues surging to £161 million after All 4 was boosted during lockdown.

Digital revenues are expected to be up 32% each year, and Channel 4 has already achieved over half of its 4 year target to double All 4 views form 1 billion to 2 billion and make 30% of their total revenue from digital advertising by 2025. This target was set in November 2020, and digital advertising already accounts for 19% of its total revenue, with All 4 reaching 1.5 billion views.

Clearly, Channel 4 is well equipped to meet the challenges of the changing public broadcasting landscape, that the government has used to justify its position.

Bectu will continue to campaign to keep Channel 4 in the public hands and protect its unique remit that does so much for public service broadcasting, independent production companies and the UK’s film and TV industry.

Email your MP and let them know you oppose the Channel 4 sell-off Make your voice heard