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.
Fans of the space queued down the street for its final few days in Bethnal Green, before its eventual closure on Wednesday 1 February.
Their statement said: “Sad news. We’ve received notice to vacate our premises at Bethnal Green by the end of this week. As a property guardianship, we’ve always been aware that we may be asked to leave with very short notice. We’re disappointed that it has come so soon.
“@Enter_theVenue the creative hub with whom we share our space, have also been asked to leave. The Vagina Museum will continue to operate in the digital world as we search for a new home.”
The message continued: “We’re sad about this development, but incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished in the ten months we’ve been at our Bethnal Green premises. We’ve welcomed more than 40,000 visitors through our doors, and received so much love and positive feedback.
“In our time at Bethnal Green, we’ve once again demonstrated just how much the world needs and wants a Vagina Museum.
“Times are, once again, uncertain for us, but we’ve been through this before and risen stronger than ever. With a community like you supporting us, we know we can get through this too.
“We’re actively searching for a new home, and if you know of any vacant spaces (or have one yourself!) please don’t hesitate to reach out. In our home in Bethnal Green, we and ENTER demonstrated that we can transform an empty, unused building into a thriving heart of a community.
“If you don’t have a building, you can still help! Please consider making a donation; a donation of any size makes a huge difference and will help us to weather this storm, just as we’ve weathered storms before.”
The Vagina Museum concluded its thread with: “We’ve made it through a pandemic and a period of temporary homelessness before. With you, together, we can make it through this too.”
Gary Neville addresses ‘clumsy like’ on Tweet about Mason Greenwood ￼
Gary Neville has said that his liking of a tweet about Mason Greenwood has been ‘misinterpreted’.
The former Manchester United legend and football pundit set off a Twitter storm last night after he ‘liked’ two tweets by Nazir Afzal, and briefly retweeted one.
The tweets in question said that Greenwood was an ‘innocent man’ and added that ‘you are innocent until PROVEN guilty’.
Mason Greenwood had all criminal charges against him dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service.
He had faced allegations of rape, controlling and coercive behaviour, and assault, all against the same woman.
The CPS said that Greenwood case had been stopped because of ‘the withdrawal of key witnesses and new material that came to light’, adding that there was no longer a ‘realistic prospect of conviction’.
Several people noticed that Neville had liked a tweet about Greenwood’s ‘innocence’ and quickly challenged him on it.
One person shared a screenshot and wrote: “You have a massive platform and you’re liking bulls**t like this just because the monster plays for a team you support. you’re disgusting @GNev2.”
He posted: “I liked a tweet relating to the Mason Greenwood news this afternoon from Nazir Afzal. ( the former director of public prosecutions ).
“This like is being misinterpreted. It was a clumsy like as I obviously condemn any violence against women.”
Greenwood issued a short statement yesterday, writing: “I am relieved that this matter is now over and I would like to thank my family, loved ones and friends for their support. There will be no further comment at this time.”
Featured image: Instagram, @garyneville2 / publicity picture