Channel 4

Entertainment unions welcome news of scrapped Channel 4 privatisation

WGGB and the UK’s Federation of Entertainment Unions (FEU) have welcomed today’s news that the Government will scrap its planned privatisation of Channel 4.

Alongside united industry opposition to privatisation, the FEU strongly opposed the Government’s plans to sell the publicly owned broadcaster to a private company. It previously wrote to then Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nadine Dorries MP and to current Secretary of State Michelle Donelan MP, urging a rethink of the sale of this highly successful cultural asset.

The FEU made clear that the sale of such a profitable network would have major consequences for the UK broadcasting landscape, and would deal a major blow to the UK’s creative workforce.

The FEU comprises WGGB, Bectu, Equity, the National Union of Journalists and the Musicians’ Union and together represents over 120,000 UK creative workers.

WGGB General Secretary Ellie Peers said: 

“This is good news for all who care about TV production in the UK. Channel 4 is a creative success story – with generations of writers benefiting from its commissioning and training opportunities. Keeping Channel 4 in public ownership will help to ensure that homegrown writers continue to get the support and opportunities they need to bring their wonderfully diverse stories to UK TV audiences.”

Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said:

“Channel 4 costs the UK taxpayer nothing, yet gives us a thriving independent production sector, thousands of jobs and world-renowned, innovative content. We wholeheartedly welcome the government’s decision to scrap these short-sighted and damaging privatisation plans.

“This is a win for public service broadcasting, a win for audiences, and for the UK’s creative industries as a whole. It is also welcome news for thousands of freelancers, who are critical to the success of the broadcasting sector and continue to face post-pandemic uncertainty coupled with a chronic skills shortage and the cost-of-living crisis.

“Channel 4 is a brilliant example of the value of investing across the nations and regions. We are keen to understand more on DCMS’ proposal to accelerate investment outside London, and how this might bring new opportunities for film and TV workers and the independent production sector across the UK.

“We also welcome the opportunity for more commercial flexibility for the broadcaster and will be seeking to engage on how this might best be balanced with safeguarding its role in driving innovation and investment in independent production.”

NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet said:

“Channel 4 is of huge benefit to audiences across the UK in its role as a public service broadcaster delivering quality news and programmes. The threat to sell it off has caused wholly avoidable concern for all those who recognise and value the channel’s output and the diverse range of creators who contribute to its success.

“This rethink is welcome news and will come as a relief to audiences and workers. We call on the government to now properly engage with unions in the creative sector, whose memberships bring a unique perspective and insight, about how this vital part of the creative industry can continue to thrive and flourish.”

Visit the WGGB Save Channel 4 campaign page.