Rishi Sunak will go ahead with Channel 4 privatisation if he wins PM race

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Tory leadership candidate Rishi Sunak arrives for a hustings event with the Conservative Councillors' Association, in Westminster, central London. Picture date: Thursday July 21, 2022.
Rishi Sunak will go ahead with Channel 4 privatisation. (PA)

Rishi Sunak will press ahead with the sale of Channel 4 if he becomes Prime Minister – saying privatisation would help the broadcaster compete with streaming services.

The former chancellor is in a leadership race with Liz Truss to become the next Conservative Party leader and PM, after Boris Johnson resigned.

The Government has said the broadcaster – which was founded in 1982 and airs shows like Countdown and Gogglebox - will struggle to survive among streaming giants like Netflix.

Read more: Boris Johnson's rise to power to feature in Channel 4 documentary series

It has also said C4 has been overly reliant on declining TV advertising.

But many members of the media industry have criticised the privatisation plans, which were announced earlier this year.

File photo dated 22/01/17 of the Channel 4 logo, as Rishi Sunak will proceed with the sale of Channel 4 if he succeeds Boris Johnson as prime minister, saying privatisation would help the broadcaster compete with streaming giants. The former chancellor is locked in a leadership race with Liz Truss to become the next Conservative Party leader and PM.
There are plans to privatise Channel 4. (PA)

A campaign spokeswoman for Sunak has now confirmed: “Rishi will take forward Channel 4’s privatisation.

“Channel 4 is a crucial part of British broadcasting and supports our brilliant creative industries, but a lot has changed since the 1980s when it was set up to provide viewers with more choice.

“Privatisation will help Channel 4 to thrive in an age where they are also competing with Netflix, Amazon, Apple and many more.

“Standing still is not an option.”

The announcement was met with some disappointment in the industry.

Foreign Secretary and Conservative leadership candidate Liz Truss leaving her campaign office in Westminster, London.
Liz Truss is also in the leadership race. (PA)

Philippa Childs, head of broadcasting union Bectu, said it was “incredibly disappointing”.

She also warned that it would have “major consequences”.

“Channel 4 is a hugely successful public service broadcaster, consistently pushing the boundaries of entertainment and thought-provoking content for British audiences,” she said.

“This success is built on the back of the current model, which supports a thriving independent production sector and allows commissioners a degree of risk and creativity, of which the viewing public reap the benefits.

“Make no mistake – privatisation which will have major consequences for the UK broadcasting landscape, for the jobs of UK freelancers and for the UK’s creative economy.”

<em>Gogglebox </em>is one of the shows on Channel 4. (Channel 4)
Gogglebox is one of the shows on Channel 4. (Channel 4)

She added that they would "continue to fiercely oppose this destructive move".

Read more: Tory leadership race - how the vote works and when it ends

The sale of Channel 4 has been backed by Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, who is supporting Truss in the leadership contest.

Truss’ campaign spokesman has been approached for comment.

Additional reporting by PA.

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