The federal government is to assessment the possession mannequin and remit of Channel 4, opening up the broadcaster to the opportunity of being privatised as quickly as subsequent yr.
Individually, the Division for Digital, Tradition, Media and Sport stated it could additionally contemplate clamping down on streaming providers equivalent to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
“Transferring Channel 4 into personal possession and altering its remit might assist safe its future as a profitable and sustainable public service broadcaster,” the federal government stated in an announcement.
It stated it could additionally take a look at “whether or not the regulation of video-on-demand providers equivalent to Netflix and Amazon Prime want strengthening so they’re topic to related guidelines as conventional ‘linear’ broadcasters such because the BBC, ITV and Sky”.
These stricter guidelines might embrace adjustments to age rankings and firmer impartiality and accuracy tips for documentaries and information content material – alongside “measures to degree the enjoying discipline so public service broadcasters can compete with worldwide rivals”.
However senior executives at Channel 4 hit again towards a attainable privatisation of the broadcaster on Tuesday, warning some programmes might be scrapped if the transfer goes forward.
The problem is boiling over even because the community pronounces its greatest ever annual outcomes, after a restoration in promoting revenues and a discount in spending left Channel 4 in a powerful monetary place.
Channel 4 is state-owned however 90% funded by adverts, giving it a novel place among the many UK’s broadcasters. Its promoting income permits it to create content material for extra various audiences, in step with its public service remit.
The opinions of Channel 4 and the streaming providers will come forward of a broadcasting white paper due within the autumn. The paper will contemplate the way forward for the nation’s broadcasting panorama, the federal government stated.
“We’ll now be how we might help ensure that Channel 4 retains its place on the coronary heart of British broadcasting and degree the enjoying discipline between broadcasters and video-on-demand providers,” stated tradition secretary Oliver Dowden.
“Transferring Channel 4 into personal possession might enable it to entry new capital, create strategic partnerships, and attain worldwide markets solely obtainable by means of the personal sector,” the assertion added.
Supporters of privatisation consider it’s the solely technique to fend off the risk posed by streaming providers, by permitting broadcasters to boost cash to compete.
However Charles Gurassa, Channel 4’s chairman, countered this notion on Tuesday, saying the broadcaster had the monetary firepower to take a position when crucial, and “we’d launch it”.