The UK TV industry’s anger has turned to prime minister candidate Rishi Sunak over the sale of Channel 4, with broadcasting union Bectu slamming Sunak’s proposal to go ahead with privatisation.
Sunak, one of the two remaining in the race to succeed Boris Johnson, confirmed yesterday that he would not reverse the decision taken by Johnson and incendiary Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, saying, in line with earlier opinion government that privatization “will help Channel 4 thrive at a time when they also compete with Netflix, Amazon, Apple and many others.
“Rishi will push forward the privatization of Channel 4,” his spokesperson said. “Channel 4 is a crucial part of UK broadcasting and supports our brilliant creative industries, but a lot has changed since the 1980s when it was set up to give viewers more choice.”
Responding in the last few minutes, Philippa. Childs, head of the UK’s biggest TV union, Bectu, said the former chancellor’s comments show he ‘doesn’t understand why the Channel 4 model is so successful and why there is opposition so unified and vehement of the industry for sale”.
She reiterated that the move “will have major consequences for the UK media landscape, for jobs for UK freelancers and for the UK’s creative economy”.
As Chancellor, Sunak will have endorsed the decision to sell Channel 4, which he says could fetch around £1bn ($1.2bn) and started making its way through Parliament in May.
The vast majority (96%) of respondents to the government’s privatization consultation said they opposed the sale, and a recent poll found the issue at the bottom of Conservative Party voters’ priorities.
The 160,000 Conservative MPs will decide whether to vote for Sunak or his opponent Liz Truss over the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, a review of the future of BBC license fees, due this week, has now been delayed, raising hopes it will be canceled altogether once the next Prime Minister is in place from of September 5.