In a short debate in the House of Commons this morning (26th May) Michael Fabricant said “Like the Honourable Lady opposite, I have also worked in the broadcast industry. Subject to certain strict conditions, I support the sale of Channel 4.
“But would my Rt Hon Friend, the Secretary of State, confirm that any sell-off would be subject to a minimum British content, news content, and the innovative programming that we so much enjoy on that station?”
Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Secretary of State Nadine Dorries replied: “Channel 4 is being sold, and it is being sold as a public service broadcaster, and those criteria which he has outlined himself will absolutely be in there.
“If anybody cares to read the Broadcasting White Paper, they will see we have put a number of things into the Media Bill, which will help Channel 4, including prominence, including introducing a code which will put all public service broadcasters and streamers on a level playing field in terms of what they can and can’t broadcast in the UK.
“But it is going to be sold as a public service broadcaster, and there will also be a requirement to continue to make distinctive British content; the Derry Girls, Gogglebox, all those programmes that we know are distinctly British. There will also be a requirement to do that too, as well as what he has listed.”
Michael now says: “Channel 4 carries advertising and most people think that like itv and Channel 5, it is privately owned. I don’t believe Channel 4 should be sold off because of an obsession with privatisation, I believe it has to be sold off to ensure its survival. With Netflix, Prime, Sky, Disney, Now, and other subscription services, advertising revenue is falling. Channel 4 has to be given the freedom to innovate which it will have if out of the Treasury’s hands. With safeguards in place independent British production companies will still be commissioned for their work – and I might still be able to appear on programmes like First Dates!”