Reasons for selling off Channel 4 are "crystal clear", claims Nadine Dorries' department

Nadine Dorries’ Government department has said its reasons for selling off Channel 4 are “crystal clear”.

It comes after station bosses set out alternative proposals to privatisation which they claim would better protect the channel’s work outside London, including at its regional headquarters in Leeds.

Channel 4’s proposals include “levelling up” so it becomes more “northern-based”, with the majority of the workforce to be based outside of London. Some 300 roles are already based outside London and under the new plan this would increase to 600 by 2025.

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But in response to the broadcaster’s offer, a spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said it would not be deterred from its plan to sell off the broadcaster to a new owner.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries wants Channel 4 to be privatised.

Industry experts have suggested the sale could raise over £1bn for the Government.

The DCMS spokesperson said: “The Government, as the ultimate owner of Channel 4, has made the decision to sell.

“We are crystal clear that a change of ownership is necessary to give Channel 4 the best possible tools to innovate and grow at pace without asking the taxpayer to effectively underwrite the business.

“Channel 4 itself accepts change is needed so it can thrive long into the future but this previously leaked report is based on flawed assumptions and out-of-date analysis.

“It fails to acknowledge the beneficial reforms proposed in last week’s historic White Paper such as using the sale proceeds to deliver a creative dividend for skills or the fact that we will keep it as a public service broadcaster that will invest in independent production companies outside of London and make distinctive, British programmes.”

Channel 4 has been publicly owned since its creation in 1982 by the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher and is entirely funded by advertising.

Speaking earlier this week, Channel 4’s chief executive Alex Mahon warned that the Government’s plans could have a potentially “major impact on the television landscape, on where things are made, on who makes them, on what gets funded, and on where people work”.

Ms Mahon said the channel’s own plans “represent our vision” of what the station can do “whilst continuing to be owned by the British people” and added the Government’s proposed privatisation is “extremely different to the proposal we envisioned, of rooting our impact more in small and medium businesses, and more across the entirety of the UK”.

She highlighted the abolition of “the publishable custom model”, which currently gives permission for Channel 4 to make its own shows and own its own intellectual property.

Channel's ambitions for Leeds

Channel 4 has set out plans to “streamline” its presence in London.

It has its main headquarters in Leeds and would look to expand its digital content production studio, 4Studio, which is also based in the city.

It would also aim to tackle skills shortages by doubling investment in 4Skills, its training and development strategy, to £100 million over the next decade, including the establishment of a 4Skills school outside of London.

The Government has claimed public ownership is holding it back from competing with streaming giants such as Netflix.

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