Culture secretary Donelan kicks C4 privatisation into political long grass

Newish British PM Rishi Sunak is positioning himself as Captain Sensible, producing a wish list of priorities to get the country back on its feet (he hopes.)

One of the least sensible notions of the previous Tory government and its cartoonish culture secretary Nadine Dorries was privatising terrestrial TV’s Channel 4, one that doesn’t do any harm (although it tries from time to time) and costs the taxpayer nothing (unlike many parts of post-Brexit Britain.)

A leaked letter from her successor Michelle Donelan (above) says: “pursuing a sale at this point is not the right decision.” Her DCMS, caught on the hop it seems, says: “The DCMS Secretary of State has been clear that we are looking again at the business case for the sale of Channel 4. We will announce more on our plans in due course.”

Dorries, predictably, has attacked the decision.

Privatising C4, which provides advertisers with a useful option, would, in practice, have meant its sale to a US-based media owner or private equity, neither of which would have made the channel better. Dorries said it needed new financing to compete with the big Hollywood streamers, seemingly oblivious to the fact that most of them are losing money hand over fist and any such attempt by a privatised C4 would have led to its rapid demise.

A while back we suggested that the right government policy here was one of “masterly inactivity.” Mercifully they seem to have adopted it.

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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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