Conservative MP Andrew Griffith indicates preference for domestic consolidation

andrew griffith

Conservative MP and former Sky chief operating officer Andrew Griffith has suggested that a merger with a UK-based business is the best outcome for a privatised Channel 4.

Speaking at an Ender Analysis fireside chat with analyst Claire Enders last week, the MP for Arundel and South Downs said that domestic consolidation makes sense when considering the “mega-trends” affecting the industry.

“We have probably got too many broadcasters that are too small,” he said. “It would be good to see some intra-UK broadcast consolidation to create bigger, more sustainable businesses.”

Griffith, who left Sky after 20 years in 2019, appeared to indicate that merging C4 with ITV, Channel 5 or Sky would make the most sense, with the added benefit of helping to simplify the TV advertising market.

“We have too many ad sales points,” he said. “Do we really need three tethered goats with the Jurassic predators of Facebook and Google running around? [TV] needs to move to a single advertising market.”

He added that the newspaper and radio industries have suffered as a result of supporting fragmented ad markets and he would “hate for broadcast to make the same mistake”.

Griffith scotched the suggestion that such a tie-up could ring alarm bells with regulators over competition fears, in light of the scale of the competition from the global giants such as Netflix and Amazon.

“[The SVoDs] have come from nowhere and are pouring billions into the space – albeit globally. I don’t think C4 tying up with ITV or C5 is something that [regulators] should be falling off their chair about as they may have done 5-10 years ago.”

Griffith sits on the government’s nine-strong Future PSB panel alongside the likes of Jane Turton, Michael Grade and John Hardie.

Terms of trade transition

Griffith, who is the UK’s net zero business champion, also called for the government to consider a “glide path” away from the terms of trade as part of the consultation process.

“The terms of trade have been so fantastically successful that many of the smaller businesses they were designed to foster have grown bigger than the broadcasters themselves,” he said.

“It’s been a very successful intervention but I think there’s an opportunity to transition away from that over time and potentially look at different thresholds.”

He added that such a move would help future-proof C4. “The opportunity that is there is to give it more of an IP base, along with new access to capital, and the opportunity to participate in consolidation, while preserving some of its best bits.”


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