The planned privatization of Channel 4 caused a stir, but this decision also proved confusing.
Unlike the BBC, Channel 4 is funded by advertising rather than license fees, despite being publicly owned, which leaves some unsure of what the news will mean for viewers.
In an exclusive poll conducted by RadioTimes.com, more than 1,000 readers voted on whether the general public understands the impact privatization of Channel 4 would have on viewers.
RadioTimes.com found that 63% did not fully understand the implications, while 37% said they understood.
The decision to sell the public service broadcaster was confirmed by Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries in early April.
In a statement, she said: “Channel 4 rightly holds a special place in British life and I want it to remain that way.
“I have come to the conclusion that government ownership prevents Channel 4 from competing with streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon. A change in ownership will give Channel 4 the tools and the freedom to grow and prosper as a public service broadcaster long into the future.
“I will seek to reinvest proceeds from the sale into leveling up the creative sector, putting money into independent production and creative skills in priority regions of the country – delivering a creative dividend for all.”
When the government launched a consultation on the move last year, it highlighted the potential benefits of selling Channel 4 to a private company.
“There are constraints that come with public ownership, and a new owner could bring access and benefits, including access to capital, strategic partnerships and international markets,” he said at the time. . “Private investment would mean more content and more jobs.”
However, the move proved controversial, with Channel 4 calling the news “disappointing” and a host of TV industry figures hit back at the decision.
Saoirse-Monica Jackson recently said BBC News that shows like Derry Girls “would never be made” by a privatized Channel 4, and called the news “devastating”.
Meanwhile, Armando Iannucci wrote in The Guardian that “the truth is, however, that it is not the government that owns Channel 4: we the public do”, and said that “the Channel 4 debate is not over”.
Hire, Hire, Hire presenter Kirstie Allsopp also weighed in on the government’s announcement, saying that if Channel 4 is sold, “[p]Profit will be king and the passion and inclusion of Channel 4 will be lost.”
Many, including Channel 4’s programming director Ian Katz, have expressed concern that Channel 4’s focus on programs featuring underrepresented voices could suffer under private ownership.
Find out more about the news and what it means for Channel 4 in our explainer here.
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