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7th Jul, 2022

Solihull MP Julian Knight raises questions over Channel 4 sell-off

Ross Crawford 10th Apr, 2022

SOLIHULL MP Julian Knight has questioned if the Government’s plans to forge forward with the privatisation of Channel 4 are ‘revenge’, adding that many Tories believe the move is ‘payback time’ for ‘biased coverage’.

In a string of tweets, the MP addressed what he said was the ‘elephant in the room time’ as he tweeted: “Is this being done for revenge for Channel 4’s biased coverage of the likes of Brexit and personal attacks on the PM?

“The timing of the announcement 7pm, coinciding with Channel 4 News, was very telling…”.

His comments follow Monday’s confirmation that the Government plans to proceed with plans to privatise the broadcaster, with reports saying the sale plans will be set out in a White Paper later in April and will be included in a new Media Bill for spring 2023.

Mr Knight, who chairs the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS), stated the views in his tweets were his own and not those of the ‘committee more generally’.

He wrote: “It is certainly true that Channel 4 will have greater freedom to compete once privatised and if managed well it should be able to continue to innovate and, crucially, appeal to young audiences – a real USP in today’s broadcast landscape.

“However, this is a big risk. The question has to be, do you think a restricted but brilliant small state broadcaster will part-compete with the likes of Apple and Amazon, or does it need to be able to borrow and grow in a way only privatisation can unlock?

“In all this, it’s crucial the Government protects the prominence of all public service broadcasting through the new media bill, in order to give the likes of a new privatised Channel 4 a head start.

“So, to sum up. Privatisation – even for some wrong reasons – can work for C4 but must be part of a thorough overhaul of all public service broadcasting. If this is in the media bill I will support the Government.”

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