Congress notes the UK government’s intention to privatise Channel 4, a publicly owned but self-funding broadcaster.
Congress believes that Channel 4’s publisher-broadcaster model and unique public service broadcaster (PSB) remit has been integral to the success of the British television industry in the nearly 40 years since it was launched. While state-owned, it is 90 per cent funded by advertisements, at no cost to the taxpayer, with a remit to be innovative, producing content ranging from Channel 4 News, Dispatches and Unreported World to It’s a Sin, Gogglebox and Paralympics.
Despite the pandemic, C4 reported a record surplus; opened new Leeds headquarters; established creative hubs in Glasgow and Bristol; spent half its money outside London; supported 10,600 jobs and contributed almost £1bn to the UK economy.
Congress believes the privatisation proposal makes no economic sense, is being driven by ideology and would be an act of cultural vandalism.
Congress further notes that privatisation will remove Channel 4’s legislative responsibilities to nurture new talent, to reflect cultural diversity, to show alternative viewpoints and to invest in UK film. Congress fears C4’s award-winning, hour-long C4 News would not survive.
The loss of this remit would also affect the employment opportunities available to performers and other creative workers from under-represented backgrounds who are more likely to currently gain employment in C4-commissioned programming that aims to represent the UK’s cultural diversity.
Congress believes that the pandemic has shown how vital it is to have sources of reliable, accurate information and news, as shown by increased viewing figures for our PSBs.
Congress notes with concern the government is being advised on the future of PSB by a secretive panel made up of many of its own supporters, not set up under Cabinet Office guidelines.
Congress resolves to:
i. oppose the privatisation of Channel 4
ii. campaign in support of public service broadcasting and against any sale or merger of C4, and for full transparency on the activities of the government’s PSB panel
iii. support campaigning by the Federation of Entertainment unions to protect public service broadcasting across the UK.
Seconder: National Union of Journalists