The House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee, chaired by Lord Gilbert of Panteg, is to hold an inquiry into the future of Channel 4. The Committee invites written contributions by Friday 17 September 2021.
The Committee expects to hear from invited contributors in public sessions in September and October 2021.
The Communications and Digital Committee wishes to investigate the remit and ownership of Channel 4, following its reports A privatised future for Channel 4? (published July 2016) and Public service broadcasting: as vital as ever (published November 2019).
Channel 4 has been one of the UK’s public service broadcasters since 1982. It is state-owned but run independently and on a commercial basis, with its profits being used to invest in content. Unlike the BBC and ITV, it has no in-house production arm; its programmes are all made by independent production companies.
The Communications Act 2003 defined Channel 4’s remit as “the provision of a broad range of high quality and diverse programming which, in particular—
Channel 4 Corporation also operates a portfolio of channels such as E4 and Film4. Programmes are available online through its All4 service. It transferred its national headquarters to Leeds in 2019, part of a wider project to move roles outside of London.
On 6 July 2021, the Government launched a consultation on privatising Channel 4 Corporation. The consultation paper states that privatisation is currently the Government’s preferred option.
The Committee’s predecessor concluded in 2016 that the risks of privatisation, both for Channel 4 and for the creative industries, outweighed any potential benefits.
The Committee seeks responses to the following questions to form the written evidence for its report. Contributors need not address every question and experts are encouraged to focus on their specialism. Other issues may be discussed provided that their relevance is explained. Submissions which have been previously published will not be accepted as evidence. However, published material may be referenced where relevant.
The Committee encourages people from all backgrounds to contribute and believes that it is particularly important to hear from groups which are often under-represented. The Committee’s work is most effective when it is informed by as diverse a range of perspectives and experiences as possible.
1.What, if any, developments over the last five years give cause to re-evaluate the ownership of Channel 4 Corporation?
2.If Channel 4 Corporation were privatised, what would be the benefits? What would be the risks and to what extent could they be mitigated?
3.If Channel 4 were to remain in public ownership, what would be the benefits? Insofar as they are valid, how could concerns about its viability be addressed?
4.Should the regulation and/or remit of Channel 4 be changed, irrespective of its ownership?