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UK Plans To Privatise Channel 4 TV Network

The government plans to privatise Britain’s free-to-air public-service television network Channel 4, arguing that it otherwise cannot keep up with streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon.

The company launched in 1982 and its remit involves supporting Britain’s independent production sector and producing a unique and diverse range of programmes.

The publicly-owned but commercially-funded broadcaster draws 90 percent of its income from advertising.

But culture minister Nadine Dorries tweeted late Monday that government ownership was “holding Channel 4 back from competing against streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon”.

Dorries said a change of ownership “will give Channel 4 the tools and freedom to flourish and thrive as a public service broadcaster long into the future.”

The plans will be outlined in parliament “in due course”, she added.

A statement by Channel 4 said “it is disappointing that today’s announcement has been made without formally recognising the significant public interest concerns which have been raised” by the potential sale, which it is reported could raise up to £1 billion ($1.3 billion, 1.2 billion euros).

Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon said in an internal email to staff that it was for the “government to propose and parliament to decide” the future of the broadcaster.

Labour’s Lucy Powell, the shadow culture secretary, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the decision “doesn’t make any sense. I can’t find many people are in favour of it.

“I fear that … rather than competing with some of the big US streaming giants, it is more likely to be bought by one of them,” she added.

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