UK government plan to sell Channel 4 TV channel draws criticism

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LONDON (AP) — The British government faced a backlash on Tuesday from opponents and the television industry over its plan to sell public broadcaster Channel 4.

The Conservative government said privatizing the channel would help it compete with streaming services and “thrive in the face of a rapidly changing media landscape”.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said on Twitter that government ownership “prevents Channel 4 from competing with streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon”.

But critics say privatization will destroy a channel that has supported acclaimed shows such as ‘Black Mirror’ and ‘Derry Girls’, as well as popular news programs and documentaries.

Channel 4 was founded in 1982 to produce programs for audiences underserved by existing broadcasters. It is owned by the government, but is ad-supported.

The broadcaster said it was disappointed with the government’s decision, saying it was taken without “acknowledging the significant public interest concerns that have been raised”.

Unions and industry groups also criticized the decision. John McVay, chief executive of Pact, a trade body for independent production companies, said Channel 4 programs are made by independent producers across the UK and selling them “risks reducing opportunities for independent producers and to reduce the number of programs commissioned from outside London”. .”

Opposition Labor Party culture and media spokeswoman Lucy Powell said: ‘Selling Channel 4, which doesn’t cost the taxpayer a dime anyway, to what is likely to be a business foreign, is cultural vandalism.”

Dorothy Byrne, Channel 4’s former head of news and current affairs, alleged privatization was intended to be “a bit of red meat” for Tory supporters, many of whom believe Channel 4 News has a leftist bias.

“Channel 4 is not here to compete with Netflix and Amazon,” she said. “He is there to provide a public service to the British people.”

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