The UK government has delayed making a decision over the future of Channel 4, according to The Times. Digital Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) minister Nadine Dorries was due to make a decision on whether Channel 4 would be privatised this month; however, this decision will not be delayed until December or January 2022.
The Times report that the decision has been delayed following a public consultation that saw backlash over the idea of privatising the broadcaster, which currently is publicly owned but commercially funded. The government had 60,000 submissions on the public consultation.
Government ministers have made the case for privatisation of Channel 4, suggesting that the move would “help it unlock… much-needed investment”. On the other hand, Channel 4 bosses, including CEO Alex Mahon, have been strongly opposed to the move.
Speaking at the Royal Television Society (RTS) conference in September, Mahon warned that the privatisation of Channel 4 “could well have serious and long-lasting consequences”. The Institute for Practitioners of Advertising (IPA) has also expressed firm support for the continued public ownership of the broadcaster.
The deadline for responses to the public consultation was the middle of September, after which the government consulted with JP Morgan on its options.
There are several parties rumoured to be interested in a potential purchase of Channel 4, if it was to be made private. Rival broadcaster ITV is said to be interested, as is former Channel 4 CEO Lord Michael Grade.