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Statement from Pact on the Government’s privatisation of Channel 4

Privatising Channel 4 is unnecessary and risks damaging the UK’s world-beating independent TV and film production sector.

Channel 4 is crucial to our sector, both as a commissioner of programmes and because of its role in helping new businesses get their first break, especially businesses outside the M25.

Every year, Channel 4 commissions first-time content from 15 indies just starting out in the sector, with a total of 195 indies getting their first break from the broadcaster between 2006 and 2019. Without Channel 4 taking a risk on them, these businesses would have found it much more difficult to break into the sector and grow into the successful businesses they are today. Channel 4’s role in supporting British creative entrepreneurs is not finished as every year small, regional companies look to break into the incredibly competitive UK production sector. Selling it off now risks reducing the opportunities for independent producers and reducing the amount of programming commissioned outside London.

Unlike other broadcasters, Channel 4 makes none of its programmes in-house, commissioning hundreds of independent TV companies from around the UK each year to make its programmes, and a private owner could shift production away from these independent producers to cut costs, with a knock-on impact on the wider industry. It is estimated that this shift to in-house production will lead to a loss of £3.7 billion to the sector over a decade. This potential move to in-house production transfers value away from British SMEs and into the hands of large profit driven corporations.

This is a levelling down agenda, not levelling up, with big businesses being the ultimate winners to the cost of small, regional indies.

Pact will continue to work hard to persuade the Government that it isn’t too late for them to think again.