Helen Grant warns DCMS of rushing into an ill-considered sale

Helen Grant Andy Carter Jason McCartney

l to r: Helen Grant, Andy Carter & Jason McCartney

A trio of Conservative MPs are among a group of politicians warning the government against selling Channel 4 without “broad and robust evidence” to support the decision. 

The C4 All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), which is led by Helen Grant MP (Conservative), has written to culture secretary Oliver Dowden to set out its concerns over how the consultation has been framed. 

The six-strong group includes two other Tory MPs, Andy Carter and Jason McCartney, plus Labour MP Julie Elliott, SNP MP Lisa Cameron and Baroness Bonham-Carter, who sits in the Lords as a Liberal Democrat.  

The group’s letter is critical of the DCMS’ position of ‘proceeding on the basis that an alternative ownership model may be better’ and calls on ministers to “gather and examine a broad and robust evidence case” before reaching a conclusion.  

“A compelling and coherent case for sell-off is needed before, not after, any major decisions are taken,” it said. 

The group also wants the government to set out what it wants C4 to deliver in the future and the best business model to underpin its ambition. 

“It would therefore be reasonable to expect some very sound analysis, on whether private ownership, with a profit motive, would improve or detract from C4’s considerable existing contribution to UK plc.” 

Following a warning from former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson that indies will go bust if a sale is enacted, the letter raises the prospect of it also resulting in “unforeseen costs and harms…which will need to be carefully considered.” 

“We encourage you to consider the possible unintended consequences of removing publisher-broadcaster status to pursue [greater access to capital],” it said. “Money would be taken away from small independent businesses across the UK and instead could end up flowing out of the country and into the pockets of multination corporations and their shareholders.”   

C4 insiders and Pact are known to be alarmed about the consultation’s lack of impact assessment and their fears have been echoed by the APPG. 

“[A sale] could risk destabilising the national effort to build back better, disrupting the creative industries…and damaging a film & TV sector currently envied around the world. We also feel strongly that the consultation should take account of C4’s extensive support for SMEs, levelling up on skills and apprenticeships and investing in creative and production clusters.”  

The letter follows growing support for Broadcast’s Not 4 Sale campaign which has garnered more than 100 signatories form indie owners.


Click for more information about Broadcast’s C4 anti-privatisation campaign Not 4 Sale

If you would like to join email not4sale@broadcastnow.co.uk indicating whether you are joining in a personal capacity or signing up your business, to enable Broadcast to highlight each area when publishing the results.