Channel 4 privatisation 'would be antithesis of levelling up', Tracy Brabin warns Nadine Dorries

West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin has questioned whether new Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has properly read and understood submissions arguing against the privatisation of Channel 4.

Ms Dorries told a meeting at the Conservative Party conference that privatising Channel 4 was an "obvious" option for the station's future but Ms Brabin said that such a move would be the "antithesis of levelling up".

The Labour politician said Channel 4's role in supporting production companies in Yorkshire and across the country was clearly set out in submissions to the Government's consultation on the broadcaster's future.

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"Nadine is new to the role, it could be potentially that she hasn't read the consultation submissions," Ms Brabin said.

Tracy Brabin has urged Nadine Dorries to rethink plans to privatise Channel 4.

“If she had read those, she would have understood that if you are committed to levelling up, privatising Channel 4 is the absolute antithesis of that.

"Channel 4 content is made for us at no cost but they are committed to doing 50 per cent of their commissioning from regions and nations and have hit their target two years early.

“They are committed to regional commissioning of local production companies who hire local talent. More importantly, those companies keep the intellectual property rights so they can sell that around the world and have an income stream to develop, flourish and become bigger companies and take on more people.

“Privatising it means there’s no commitment to that. Channel 4 would make its own content, keep the IP and probably develop the thinking, ‘What are we doing in Leeds, let’s get back to London where it is a bit more convenient’.

Nadine Dorries has replaced Oliver Dowden as Culture Secretary.

“So I think that when Nadine reads the consultation in more detail she’ll potentially understand the impact they are having.

“Hopefully she will come to Leeds and I will show her around and we can have a conversation to say, actually they do a brilliant job with access for young people in apprenticeships, paid internships. The thing about Channel 4 is they are the venture capitalists of our region when it comes to this sector because they invest in people in the long-term. Individual producers who are just starting out have said to me, ‘I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for Channel 4 ten years ago. They invest in people’.”

She said her anti-privatisation stance is backed by the fellow Labour mayors of Greater Manchester, Liverpool and Bristol.

“We will all suffer if Channel 4 is privatised because of their commitment to regions and nations by commissioning 50 per cent of their content. That money goes into our regions. Our growing cultural sectors will wither on the vine without Channel 4.”

A DCMS spokesperson said: "Channel 4 is one of this country’s greatest assets but we must think long-term about the challenges ahead and make sure it has the finance it needs to compete with the streaming giants.

"It must continue to deliver great quality content - both made by and serving people right across the country. We are clear that any changes will not compromise our commitment to the independent production sector or wider creative economy, including in the creative powerhouse of Yorkshire."

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