Channel 4 is to avoid privatisation and remain under public ownership, the government has confirmed today.
After what has been years of talks to sell the broadcaster for a reported possible £1.5 billion, which had faced strong opposition from executives at Channel 4 itself and throughout much of the TV industry, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has today confirmed a U-turn on such privatisation plans and announced that the channel will stay under public ownership.
The government says Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan has “decided not to privatise Channel 4 after reviewing the business case for its sale”.
This means that the broadcaster will remain in public ownership, but now with what the government is calling “greater commercial flexibility”, an “increased investment in skills and jobs”, as well as new production arrangements to “support” the channel’s “long-term sustainability and growth”.
Ms Donelan has called Channel 4 “a British success story” and “a linchpin of our booming creative industries”, but says she has decided that pursuing a sale is not the best option to “ease the challenges” the broadcaster is facing, nor to support growth in the UK’s creative economy – especially the independent production sector.
The government says that doing nothing, however, also “carries risks”.
This is why it says it believes change is necessary to ensure the broadcaster can thrive, both “now and long into the future” in what is a rapidly-changing media landscape.
Following discussions with Channel 4 and the independent production sector, the government has also confirmed an “ambitious package of measures” as an alternative to a sale.
“The package will ensure the broadcaster remains focused on sustainability and has new opportunities to grow while serving audiences in the decades to come with high-quality, innovative and distinctive content,” the government explains.
In addition to the package of measures, the government says Channel 4 has also committed to increasing the number of roles outside London – which is set to provide more opportunities for people from across the UK to gain experience in the broadcast media sector.
Channel 4 – which was created in 1982, and has been funded entirely by advertising out of public ownership for the last 40 years, with everything it airs is commissioned from external production companies – has welcomed the decision to ditch privatisation plans for it to remain “safely in the hands of the British people”.
The broadcaster said in a statement: “For over 40 years, Channel 4 has been a keystone of Britain’s universal, free, public service broadcasting architecture.
“We have spoken up for diverse and young audiences across the UK, nurtured new talent and held power to account, but standing still has never been an option for Channel 4 throughout our history.
“Indeed, our next stage of evolution is already well under way.”
Featured Image – Wikimedia Commons
Body found at Bolton restaurant and suspected cannabis farm days after fire
A body has been found at the site of a fire in Bolton, days after a blaze ripped through a restaurant.
It’s believed that the fire started on the first floor of the property, with early inquiries suggesting it may have been used as a cannabis farm.
Human remains were found at the premises on Bolton Road in Farnworth.
A criminal investigation is now underway and Greater Manchester Police are appealing for information and footage relating to the incident.
Emergency services had first been called to the area at around 1pm on Monday 27 November, to reports of a fire.
Earlier today, Saturday 2 December, a body was found during a search of the restaurant building, days after the fire.
Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Naismith of GMP Major Incident Team said: “Work is ongoing to identify the deceased and we are committed to ensuring the potential family members are fully supported and informed of updates in this investigation.
“The loss of life is a tragedy and I understand the upset this news will cause in the local community. I can assure you on behalf of the investigation team that we are determined to get to the bottom of what has occurred and establish the circumstances surrounding the fire.
“I can confirm this fire is being treated as suspicious and if there is any criminal responsibility, it will be brought to light and dealt with appropriately. We are particularly interested to hear from anyone who knows how this building was being used in the lead up to 27 November 2023.
“I would also like to appeal to anyone with information about the fire itself – including if you have any footage (such as CCTV, mobile or dashcam) – to contact GMP’s Major Incident Team.”
You can make a report by calling 0161 856 1995 quoting log number 1485 of 27/11/2023 or via the reporting function on GMP’s website: www.gmp.police.uk
Alternatively, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Tameside police officers hailed ‘absolute heroes’ after saving the life of a seven-year-old girl
Two Tameside police officers have been hailed as “absolute heroes” after saving the life of a seven-year-old little girl.
It comes after emergency services were called to an address in the Greater Manchester borough of Tameside earlier this week (29 November), and found a young girl who was struggling to breath and coughing up blood after choking on a sweet.
Police Constables Aaron Kincaid and James Blundell, from Greater Manchester Police‘s (GMP) Tameside division, were first on the scene.
To the huge relief of the girl’s parents, who were said to be “understandably distressed” and concerned for her welfare, PC Kincaid jumped straight into action and was able to utilise his first aid training to full effect by going on to successfully dislodge the sweet from the youngster’s throat, and then helping to calm her down before the paramedics arrived.
Whilst PC Kincaid looked after the little girl, PC Blundell did “everything he could” to help the parents remain calm.
Paramedics then took over once they arrived, and the young girl was taken to hospital as a precaution.
Reflecting on the incident, and hailing his officers “absolute heroes”, Superintendent Mike Walsh, from GMP’s Tameside district, said: “PCs Aaron Kincaid and James Blundell acted without hesitation during the incident, and took control of the situation that they were faced with.
“They deserve every credit for staying calm under extreme pressure and for working together as a team and utilising their training to lifesaving effect, and I’m sure the girl’s parents and family will consider them to be absolute heroes.”
“We’re both glad that we were in the right place at the right time,” PC Kincaid added.
“I have a daughter the same age as the little girl who needed our help, and I cannot tell you how much of a relief it was when she started breathing normally and said she was okay after I had managed to dislodge the sweet.