Former Scottish Conservative leader warns indies will close following privatisation

Ruth Davidson

Ruth Davidson: Football’s Gambling Addiction

Former Conservative MSP Ruth Davidson has dubbed the government’s plans to sell Channel 4 as “preposterous” and claimed changing its remit risks putting indies out of business.

Delivering a broadside against her party in today’s Telegraph, the former Scottish Conservative party leader said she is “lost” as to the justification driving the consultation process.

“What puzzled me [is] the implication it’s not thriving. This isn’t an ailing ship,” she said.

Davidson pointed out that raising the potential value of the business by meddling with its publisher-broadcaster model or programming commitments could be catastrophic for suppliers.

“Keeping a commitment to supporting a model which invests across the UK would drive down the price further while changing that remit threatens to put lots of taxpaying production firms out of business,” she said.

She questioned why the government would turn against an organisation which is the “living embodiment” of its current agenda.

“From Global Britain through Levelling Up and into Building Back Better, the C4 rules and remit seem tailor made to deliver on every one of Boris Johnson’s favourite buzz phrases,” she said.

She cited its £12bn investment in the UK economy and the “ten thousand” people it has indirectly employed across the country in recent years.

Davidson, who fronted Firecrest’s recent C4 doc Football’s Gambling Addiction, argued that a sale would not generate huge financial returns for a cash-strapped country.

“Channel 4 owns none of its own content, which belongs to the production companies which created it,” she said. ”Therefore there’s no lucrative back catalogue for investors to purchase.”

C4 was characterised as among the “jewels” of the UK’s cultural heritage.

“The idea that a government would want to divest itself of cultural assets, wholly owned by the people of this country which don’t cost the taxpayer a penny but that drive investment, jobs and can help recovery is preposterous,” she said.

“When it comes to value for money, supporting private films, levelling up, projecting Britain to the world, I back Margaret Thatcher’s model of a Channel 4 that is owned by the nation and delivers for it, without costing the taxpayer a penny. And so should any Tory government.”

Her comments follow an Early Day Motion, tabled by Labour MP Grahame Morris which has attracted the support of 36 MPs but no Tories.


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