Who will buy Channel 4?

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Channel 4 could be bought by a streaming giant such as Netflix as part of the government’s plan to privatize the free-to-air broadcaster, a government minister said.

Culture Minister John Whittingdale said Radio schedules that he “by no means ruled out” the takeover of the station by a company such as Netflix or Amazon, adding: “We think it makes sense to look at alternative ownership models, to ensure that Channel 4 is still able to invest in program content to compete with these other services.

The government “will not exclude anyone” from the bidding process, he continued, adding: “We will wait and see what happens.”

Highest bidder

Channel 4 was considered for privatization by the governments of Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair. And in 2016, it was reported that the future of the channel was once again being examined by the government.

As it stands, Channel 4 is state owned and commercially funded, so unlike the BBC it does not receive any financial support from taxpayers. The privatization of the network would see its ownership transferred from the government to a private company or an individual.

More than 90% of the network’s revenues currently come from “the sale of television advertising in the programs it broadcasts”, The Guardian said, while “the remaining 9% of revenue comes from operations such as 4Studios, which creates digital content for advertisers, and new non-advertising partnership agreements.”

It’s not profitable, but its “goal was never to make a profit,” the newspaper adds. Rather, the money he earns is “reinvested in commissioning and purchasing programs from mainly UK television production companies, helping to support a key domestic industry.”

The government says the channel is “vulnerable to unstable advertising markets”, Reuters reports, claiming that “a move to private property with a change of tenure could help preserve its future.”

However, a series of cultural figures trashed the plans, with Armando Iannucci, the writer of Alan Partridge’s character and the political sitcom. The thickness of it, Tweeter: “Our television industry is a British success story. The profits of Channel 4 go back to the industry: selling it will give them to American shareholders. “

David Attenborough was among a group of public figures who this week signed a letter accusing the government of pursuing “short-sighted political and financial attacks” which jeopardize the UK’s “unique” tradition of broadcasting service public.

Announcing the planned privatization, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said “now is the time to see how we can unlock the potential of our public service broadcasters”, adding that an alternative ownership model, where Channel 4 retains its public service mission, “may be better for the broadcaster, and better for the country.”

Runners and riders

As Culture Minister Whittingdale told Times Radio, big streaming services should take a look at Channel 4, which is seen as an attractive proposition for outside bidders and was last valued at around $ 1. billion pounds sterling.

Whittingdale told the radio station that “in terms of those potentially interested, this is the point of a government consultation,” adding: “There would be competition concerns if a very well established broadcaster wanted to merge, and c It’s something that’s automatically a matter of competition, but I’m not excluding existing streaming services or anyone else in any way.

In 2016, a report commissioned by Channel 4 identified BT as the UK company “most likely” to bid for the channel if it were to be placed on the open market by the government. But “the broadcasting and technology landscape has changed dramatically,” says The Guardian, with BT now “looking for a buyer or strategic partner for its own pay-TV business” as it seeks to ” focus on fiber optic broadband and 5G mobile deployment ”.

The 2016 report also names US group Discovery – which is currently merging with Warner Media – or Channel 5 as the most likely overall winner in a bidding war for Channel 4. However, “foreign ownership of a key UK broadcaster can be considered politically difficult. », Adds the newspaper.

The Ministry of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) also announced that it was considering “cracking down on streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video,” Sky News reports.

In one declaration, the DCMS said it was considering “whether the regulation of video-on-demand services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime needs to be tightened so that they are subject to rules similar to those of traditional ‘linear’ broadcasters such as BBC, ITV and Sky ”.

It remains to be seen whether this increased government scrutiny will impact streaming services’ desire to take on Channel 4.

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