Channel 4 bosses to face questions from MPs on possible privatisation

The executives will also be asked about the broadcaster’s move to Leeds.

Channel 4 stock
Channel 4 stock

Channel 4 bosses will face questions from MPs about possible privatisation of the network.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden previously told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee that privatisation was under examination in a review of public service broadcasting.

The possibility of a sale of the Government-owned, privately-funded broadcaster has been explored many times over the decades but it will finally be steered towards privatisation as soon as next year, according to the Financial Times.

Channel 4’s chief executive Alex Mahon and its chairman Charles Gurassa will take questions from the committee on June 22, where they will be asked about the broadcaster’s finances and actions taken to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on advertising revenues.

DCMS Committee on Channel 4
Channel 4’s chief executive Alex Mahon (right) and Channel 4 chairman Charles Gurassa at a previous appearance before the committee (House of Commons/PA)

They will also be asked about the impact of delays to Government legislation on prominence that would make public service content easier to find on online viewing platforms, and will offer an update on the channel’s plans to move its headquarters to Leeds.

The broadcaster, which boasts Great British Bake Off, Gogglebox and SAS: Who Dares Wins among its biggest shows, was originally set up in 1982 to deliver to under-served audiences.

Last year, Ms Mahon said the channel will “prioritise digital over linear” for the first time as part of a “big switch”.

On the issue of privatisation, she said: “It’s not something we expect to happen.”

Options open to the Government include a flotation, a sale to a private buyer, the sale of a minority stake or moving to a mutual ownership model, according to the FT.

The consultation will reportedly be overseen by culture minister John Whittingdale, who oversaw the last exploration of a private sale in 2016 when he was culture secretary.

Last year he told MPs he is “entirely open minded” about privatising Channel 4 and that he is giving thought to the “future of all the public service broadcasters”.

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