I haven't made my mind up on Channel 4 privatisation, says Nadine Dorries

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has said she has not made a decision on whether the potential privatisation of Channel 4 will go ahead.
Nadine Dorries giving evidence to the DCMS committee.Nadine Dorries giving evidence to the DCMS committee.
Nadine Dorries giving evidence to the DCMS committee.

Appearing in front of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport select committee on Tuesday afternoon, Ms Dorries said she is awaiting the evaluation of the consultation into the potential move.

The consultation has received over 60,000 responses - with Channel 4 bosses arguing strongly against privatisation and saying such a move could put the future of its new Leeds headquarters in doubt.

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Ms Dorries told the DCMS Committee it is the Government’s “responsibility to check the viability” of public service broadcasters.

She said: “I think what we are doing in terms of looking at the future of Channel 4, we are doing the same thing (as when we scrutinise the BBC). Is this going to be viable in the long term as a public service broadcaster? And that is all we are doing.

“I know there is all this speculation about ‘the decision has been made’ and ‘they are going to privatise Channel 4’ but we are not. We are evaluating the future of Channel 4 and whether it is a sustainable model.

“A decision has not been taken. When we get to the point of possibly taking a decision, when we get to the point of considering all the evidence, then we can probably have this discussion.

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“But at the moment I think it is right and proper we evaluate the future of a public service broadcaster.”

Asked whether there was more or less chance of Channel 4 being privatised following her appointment as Culture Secretary, she said: “I am not going to answer that question because I can’t give you an answer because I haven’t made a decision, and actually I don’t really know what the position or thoughts of previous incumbents was with regards to Channel 4. I have got no idea really.”

Previous Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told the DCMS select committee earlier this year that Channel 4 could be privatised by 2024, before the end of the current Parliament.

Select committee member Damian Green told Ms Dorries that the Government had previously given the impression that privatisation was "not a case of whether but how" and welcomed her change in tone.

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She said: "I want to see all the evidence. I want to see a full commercial evaluation of Channel 4 and want to see what the future looks like for public service broadcaster. What is the point of having a consultation which 60,000 people respond to if I'd already made my mind up what I was going to do with Channel 4? That would be an abuse and a waste of money and effort. I'd really like to see what those 60,000 responses set out."

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