It’s A Sin has been one of Channel 4’s biggest hits this year (Picture: Channel 4)
The possibility of Channel 4 becoming privatised has been in the consideration of government officials for a while now, but according to one of the broadcasters chief officers, the move ‘may destroy’ it.
While the Government is in the midst of consulting on plans to sell the channel to private investors, Ian Katz, chief content officer at Channel 4, questioned the logic behind the potential move.
Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival, he said: ‘Pretty much to a man and woman, it feels like every producer has popped up and said that selling off Channel 4 would be tantamount to an act of self-harm against one of the most successful sectors of the British economy.’
The likely impact of privatisation on the channel’s output ‘has started to crystallise,’ he insisted and he is not the only one who has been speaking out about the matter.
Actor Rob Delaney, It’s A Sin writer Russell T Davies, and The Thick Of It creator Armando Iannucci have all voiced opposition to the sale of the broadcaster.
‘We should make no mistake that a purely profit-driven Channel 4 would be a very different beast to the Channel 4 that we know now, and much that is really special and treasured about Channel 4, I think, would very likely be lost,’ continued Katz.
Gogglebox has been airing on Channel 4 for 17 series (Picture: Channel 4)
Channel 4 was founded in 1982 to deliver content to under-served audiences. The broadcaster is owned by the Government but unlike the BBC, it receives funding from advertising.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has justified its decision to review Channel 4’s ownership structure saying the changing media landscape posed a serious threat to traditional linear broadcasters.
Katz went on to explain that he is ‘privileged enough to be part of a team’ that has ‘the primary purpose of trying to serve the remit for the greatest number of people possible.’
‘And if you move to a profit-driven organisation, that changes. Everyone comes in wanting to maximise profits and inevitably what then happens is the remit, the licence requirements, become an albatross around your neck.
‘What’s really special about the channel would be, I think, destroyed.
The Great British Bake Off is one of the most internationally beloved shows by the channel (Credits: C4/PLANET PHOTOS)
According to Katz, Channel 4 had to ‘really squeeze’ its spending on new content at the height of the pandemic last year – but the effort paid off as ‘performance was strong, advertising came back really strongly in the back half of last year.’
‘And what we’ve been trying to do ever since is to put money back into content investment as quickly as we could,’ with the broadcaster is now putting £24million into its content budget for next year.
‘That’ll take us up to the highest level of content spend since 2017 – the highest level in five years, which I think is really significant,’ he added.
And with the channel doing so well in a time of struggle, ‘I think there’s a certain irony to the fact we’re having a debate about the sustainability of Channel 4 at the moment that sees Channel 4 in probably the rudest commercial health it’s been in in a decade.’Credit: Original article published here.