Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins has welcomed the decision by Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan to shelve proposals to sell-off Channel Four.
Toby had been contacted by dozens of constituents who were concerned about the privatisation of Channel Four, which was being pursued by the Johnson and Truss governments.
Alongside fellow Labour MPs, Toby voiced his opposing the plans and had written to two former Culture Secretaries to raise concerns about such a move.
Concerns about the proposal included fears that privatisation would do little to make Channel 4 more competitive and, as the programme makers own the rights to their shows on the network, the purchase would not offer a streaming company like Netflix much in return. Unlike other UK broadcasters, Channel 4 cannot sell its own programmes. Without a serious and damaging change to the channel’s remit, it would struggle to attract many buyers.
Channel 4 has done incredible work around marginalised communities, recently publishing an Inclusion and Diversity Strategy and being a committed part of Project Diamond to obtain consistent diversity data on programmes. Opponents of privatisation argued that there was the threat that a sell-off would mean the loss of a vital champion for diversity in the sector.
There were also fears that, with the film and TV industry already reeling from the pandemic, the privatisation of Channel Four would lead to fewer job opportunities and that people from less traditional background would be excluded from the sector.
It was revealed this week that Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan has now written to the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, to recommend that the government drops its plans to privatise Channel 4.
Toby stated “Channel 4 is a great British success story and I’m pleased that it will now remain in public hands, rather than being sold off. The channel has invested £12bn in the independent production sector and each year, working with more than 300 production companies”.
He added “Since its creation, Channel 4 has been instrumental at investing in regional TV and production, giving voices to communities right across the UK. Given that things seem to constantly change with the current Conservative government, I can reassure residents that I will keep a close eye on this matter”.
Labour’s Shadow Culture Secretary Lucy Powell, said: “The Conservatives’ vendetta against Channel 4 was always wrong for Britain, growth in our creative economy, and a complete waste of everyone’s time.”