Insights Government consults on change of ownership of Channel 4


The Government says that it is “committed to the continued success of the UK’s mixed broadcasting ecology” against a backdrop of technological change and rapid market development. It says it wants to ensure that the UK’s broadcasting system is fit for the future.

The Government says that the evolving media landscape poses material challenges to Channel 4’s future success and sustainability under its current ownership model and remit. Therefore, the Government is considering changes to the operating model of Channel 4, including its ownership and its remit and obligations, “to ensure it has the best chance of future success”. This includes the challenges to the future of linear TV broadcasting, “ensuring Channel 4’s future sustainability as a public service broadcaster (PSB) and putting it in the best position to innovate and grow”. In the Government’s view, this will allow Channel 4 to continue to contribute economically, socially and culturally “by taking advantage of the opportunities available outside of public ownership”.

The Government’s preferred option is to facilitate a change of ownership of Channel 4, which “will give it greater access to new strategic and investment opportunities, allowing it to compete effectively in a more agile fashion and ensuring it has the best chance of a successful and sustainable future”. The Government believes this will help achieve its aims for the broader creative industries, to “supercharge the sector by driving economic growth, unleashing investment, creating jobs and building on our international competitiveness”.

The Government is seeking respondents’ views and supporting evidence on whether they agree that there are challenges in the current TV broadcasting market that present barriers to a sustainable Channel 4 in public ownership; and whether a continued Channel 4, with a continued public service broadcasting licence and remit, would be better placed to deliver sustainably against the Government’s aims for public service broadcasting if it was outside public ownership. The Government also wants to hear from respondents more broadly on what the economic, social and cultural costs and benefits might be to moving Channel 4 out of public ownership.

The scope of the consultation does not cover the mechanics and execution of a potential change in Channel 4’s operating model.

The consultation closes on 14 September 2021. To access the consultation, click here.