Why Channel 4 privatisation is a process of Discovery

The UK government has finally pressed the starting gun on the privatisation of broadcaster Channel 4, even though virtually no-one seems to think it’s a good idea.

The best Boris Johnson’s gang can up with is that private money will enable C4 to compete with the streaming giants. A forlorn hope as they spend billions on content – and most of them don’t make any money anyway.

Top of the bidding candidates seems to be Discovery (ITV wouldn’t be allowed to buy it as it would then have 70% of the UK’s TV ad market) which is in the process of merging with HBO. but even HBO, which pioneered big budget extended series with shows like ‘Rome,’ couldn’t hack it in the end. Rome never finished because it ran out of money.

Discovery does make money from its strange mixed bag of programmes. It’s still pursuing supposed American yeti Bigfoot through the mountains with yet another new batch of retards although we all know perfectly well they’ll never find it as it doesn’t exist. At least it’s finally dawned on Discovery that there’s no point in looking for Adolf Hitler in the South American jungle any more as by now he’d be about 130.

New Ofcom chairman Lord (Michael) Grade will presumably have some influence over this (otherwise what’s he there for?) Grade is a former boss of C4 and reportedly promised then chairman Lord (Richard) Attenborough that C4 would be privatised over his dead body.

Well you change your mind when the facts change, as Keynes noted. Trouble is they haven’t.

This one, like so many of Boris’ wheezes, is surely destined for the long grass.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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