Scottish Government to oppose Channel 4 privatisation

Fiona Hyslop MSP
Fiona Hyslop MSP

The Scottish Government has declared its opposition to the privatisation of the Channel Four Television Corporation.

Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop has written to her UK government counterpart to seek reassurances that future plans for Channel 4 will be developed in conjunction with the UK’s devolved administrations and the broadcasting sector.

The Channel 4 corporation is a publicly-owned, commercially-funded broadcasting corporation with a public service remit.

Despite previous assurances that the corporation’s privatisation was not under discussion, a UK government memo leaked last week proposes examining “options of extracting greater public value from the Channel 4 corporation, focusing on privatisation options in particular”.

The memo was photographed in the hands of a government official entering 10 Downing Street and subsequently published by The Guardian.

Ms Hyslop said: “We want to see a stronger television and film production sector across the UK and in Scotland but this isn’t achieved by privatising national institutions at the risk of damaging their very foundations.

“The Scottish Government would oppose the privatisation of the Channel 4 Corporation. Channel 4 occupies a unique position in the delivery of public service broadcasting. It champions new formats and commissioning experimental programmes. Creativity and bravery are assets to our nation, not just in the television sector, and Channel 4 has an important role to play.

“We are strongly committed to the principle of public service broadcasting and we would encourage Channel 4 to make better use of the talent and skills in the Scottish production sector, but we do not believe that privatisation would represent an improvement to the service Channel 4 provides.”

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