Welsh Government welcomes U-turn on Channel 4 privatisation
The U-turn on controversial plans to privatise Channel 4 has been welcomed by the Welsh Government.
The UK Government’s Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan confirmed on Thursday that the broadcaster will remain in public ownership.
The plans for privatisation were first raised by Ms Donelan’s predecessor Nadine Dorries.
Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, Dawn Bowden MS, said:“The Welsh Government recognises the significant value of Channel 4’s unique public service model and remit as both a publisher and a broadcaster.
“That’s why I made our position clear to the UK Government – that Channel 4 should remain publicly owned. I therefore very much welcome the UK Government’s u-turn.
“We now need to see further action from the UK Government to ensure the UK has a broadcasting system that properly serves the four nations of the UK.”
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said the decision was made following discussions with Channel 4 and the independent production sector and an “ambitious package of measures” would serve as an alternative to the sale.
The package includes reforms through the Media Bill which will allow Channel 4 the flexibility to make and own some of its content and a new statutory duty on the board to “protect” the long-term financial sustainability of the business.
The broadcaster has also committed to increasing roles outside London and providing more opportunities for people from across the UK to gain experience in the sector as part of the package, the DCMS announced.
It is hoped the reforms will help Channel 4 grow and better compete in the age of streaming giants.
In a statement, Ms Donelan said: “Channel 4 is a British success story and a linchpin of our booming creative industries. After reviewing the business case and engaging with the relevant sectors, I have decided that Channel 4 should not be sold.
“This announcement will bring huge opportunities across the UK with Channel 4’s commitment to double their skills investment to £10 million and double the number of jobs outside of London.
“The package will also safeguard the future of our world leading independent production sector. We will work closely with them to add new protections such as increasing the amount of content C4C must commission from independent producers.”
Channel 4 was created in 1982 by the Conservative government of Baroness Thatcher and is entirely funded by advertising, out of public ownership.
Unlike other broadcasters, everything it airs currently is commissioned from external production companies.
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