People walk past the offices of Channel 4 television in London, Britain June 23, 2021. REUTERS / Toby Melville / File Photo
CAMBRIDGE, England, September 15 (Reuters) – UK channel Channel 4 will be able to access more money to compete with streaming giants Amazon (AMZN.O) and Netflix (NFLX.O) if it is privately owned, a declared a minister on Wednesday.
The UK government said in June that it plans to sell the public but commercially-funded broadcaster, launched almost 39 years ago as a forward-thinking alternative to the BBC and ITV.
“If Channel 4 is to grow, it will need cash soon. Without it, Channel 4 will not have the money to invest in technology and programming, and it will not be able to compete with the streaming giants,” he said. said Junior Minister John Whittingdale at the Royal Television Society convention.
A consultation on the plan, which has been publicly criticized by Channel 4 itself, closed on Tuesday. Its managing director, Alex Mahon, said there was no evidence that a privatized Channel 4 would be able to better fulfill its mission.
“There is no data and there is no proof yet that Channel 4 would have been better able to support this mission, (…) its social impact, its support for independents and the creative community in 10 years if it was in private hands, â€Mahon said at the convention.
The consultation on the privatization of Channel 4 was launched by Oliver Dowden before he was replaced Wednesday as Minister of Culture by Nadine Dorries. His speech at the convention was delivered from a distance by Whittingdale. Read more
Channel 4, which aired the AIDS drama “It’s a Sin” this year, is dedicated to providing stimulating and distinctive programming to an audience underserved by other broadcasters.
Rather than directing programs, he commissioned them from production companies, helping to support the success of the UK independent television industry.
Channel 4 said this month that Ernst & Young’s research has shown that removing its unique publisher-broadcaster model could result in a reduction of Â£ 2 billion ($ 2.76 billion) in its contribution. to the creative economy over 10 years.
Whittingdale said his public service remit will remain.
“So if we choose to proceed with a sale, I will ensure that it remains subject to appropriate public service obligations,” he said, adding that this would cover a commitment to commission programs from independents. .
($ 1 = 0.7243 pounds)
Reporting by Paul Sandle; edited by Jonathan Oatis and Alexander Smith