Channel 4 Proposes Privatization Alternative


Channel 4 has unveiled an alternative to the government’s privatization plan that includes leveraging private capital and the launch of a new international streaming service.

Alex Mahon, Channel 4’s chief executive, unveiled 4: The Next Episode as an alternative proposal to the government’s plan to privatize the public-service broadcaster.

“The last two years have transformed the profile of Channel 4’s audience and revenues, and significantly bolstered our net asset and cash position—allowing us to accelerate our strategy and invest in our future,” Mahon said. “There is much to applaud in the Government’s White Paper and they have clearly thought about some of the issues that we collectively face. In fact, we agree with Government on a number of things. The U.K. broadcasting industry does face immense challenges; that it’s vitally important to do everything we all can to ensure that audiences can continue to enjoy great British content that represents, reflects and celebrates in the incredible diversity of this nation; and that we nurture a successful independent production sector.

“However, the White Paper proposes some significant changes to the Channel 4 model and to its role as a key institution as part of the U.K. creative industries landscape. We also recognize that standing still in this ever-changing world is not an option. We developed a new vision, 4: The Next Episode, which represents our vision of what more Channel 4 can be and can do, while continuing to be owned by the British people.”

The proposal aims to expand Channel 4’s scale and future growth in order to increase its public contribution while supporting the creation of “distinctive British IP” that can be exported globally and investing in the creative sector.

“By 2026, the U.K. economy will make more in GVA from Channel 4’s 4: The Next Episode plan than the Exchequer would gain from one-off sale proceeds,” the proposal notes. “Further, HMG would continue to own Channel 4 as an asset, which would continue to grow in value.”

The proposal includes creating new jobs for young people in the media industry, spending £100 million over the next decade on 4Skills, its apprenticeship program. “Supercharging 4Skills with £100 million over the next decade would drive growth in our economic contribution, generating up to £2 billion of value
for the UK economy in aggregate,” the proposal says.

Channel 4 also aims to move much of its operations outside of London and would spend £2 billion in Nations and Regions content over the next decade.

The proposal also calls for the launch of Global All 4, bringing its popular on-demand service to international markets. “This multi-genre offer would leverage our unique brand and content expertise to generate new revenue for Channel 4, increase the profile and reach of British producers and boost British cultural diplomacy.”

Channel 4 aims to bring £1 billion in new British investment in British content by 2030.

“By transforming Channel 4 into a digital-first broadcaster with a strong public purpose, based in Leeds, with a sustainable funding
model combining advertising revenue and private capital—we will lead the media sector’s shift towards creating new jobs and opportunities for all outside of London,” the proposal says. “Channel 4’s proposals would transform the organization into a new model for U.K. public service broadcasting, while increasing
Channel 4’s scale and contribution to British cultural life—future proofing our cultural, economic and public impact for the next generation.”