Oliver Dowden – 2021 Statement on the Future of Channel 4

The statement made by Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, in the House of Commons on 6 July 2021.

Today, we are launching a consultation on the future ownership of Channel Four Television Corporation.

Since its creation almost 40 years ago by a Conservative Government, Channel 4 has delivered on its remit, aims and objectives. But, in that time, the broadcasting landscape has changed beyond recognition, and continues to change apace.

Increased global competition, changing audience habits, the decline of linear advertising revenue and a wave of consolidation in the sector all pose challenges.

The consultation therefore asks for views and evidence on what ownership model and remit will best support Channel 4 to thrive for another 40 years and beyond.

It is the Government’s current view, to be tested through the consultation, that a new ownership model would give Channel 4 the broadest range of tools to continue to thrive in the face of these new challenges.

There are constraints that come with public ownership, and a new owner could bring access and benefits, including access to capital, new strategic partnerships and to the international markets.

As we have set out before, we believe that the need for public service broadcasting in the UK is as strong as ever. We want to see Channel 4 keep its place at the heart of British broadcasting and continue to support the great creative economy in this country. We want to put it on a footing to flourish for decades to come. Now is therefore the time to test whether an alternative ownership model may be better for the broadcaster and better for the country.

This consultation forms a key part of the Government’s wider strategic review of public service broadcasting, along- side Ofcom’s own reflection exercise. Together, our work will ensure that our public service broadcasters and the wider broadcasting framework are fit for the 21st century.

The consultation can be accessed from today on gov.uk and will run for 10 weeks, closing on 14 September 2021 at 11.45 pm. A copy of the consultation will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.