DCMS white paper may not emerge until new year

The government’s response to its consultation into the future of Channel 4 looks set to be delayed. 

The DCMS white paper setting out its position about a potential change in ownership may not be published until December or January, according to a report in the Sunday Times.  

The white paper had originally been slated for this autumn, shortly after the consultation closed in September, but the government is understood to have received some 60,000 submissions, which may have contributed to the delay. 

Two people familiar with the situation suggested to Broadcast that the delay could be taken as a sign the government is cooling on the idea of a sale. 

They argue that if the government was fully committed to driving through privatisation then its response would have emerged soon after the closure of the consultation, and that this would have happened had former culture secretary Oliver Dowden and minister John Whittingdale still been in post.  

“The fact that they are dragging their heels indicates that they don’t have a clear sense of what they want to do with C4,” said one. 

Another person connected to the process said they are not surprised by the delay. 

“It’s hard to see how DCMS can cope with a white paper on top of everything else they have on their plate, and with a new set of ministers,” they said. 

DCMS had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.