Isn’t it great, the way the Torygraph has spun this story to make it seem the Conservatives are Channel 4’s white knights?
If it weren’t for the Tories, C4 wouldn’t have been facing privatisation in the first place!
But now, as creative people line up to voice their objections to John Whittingdale’s planned vandalism of the BBC, David Cameron has suddenly developed cold feet.
So now the plan is to offer a minority stake to a “strategic partner”.
This Writer understands that C4 executives are already rejecting the plan, seeing part-privatisation as a stepping-stone to full privatisation and an alteration in programme-making policy in order to make a fast buck.
Stealth privatisation does seem to be what the Tories are all about, these days.
Just look at the NHS.
Channel 4 will escape full privatisation following an intervention from Downing Street, The Telegraph understands.
A series of other major reforms of the state-owned broadcaster remain under consideration, however, senior Government sources revealed. They include the potential sale of a minority stake to a strategic partner such as BT and the introduction of National Audit Office (NAO) scrutiny of Channel 4’s accounts.
In measures designed to ensure it delivers better value for money for the taxpayer, Channel 4 could be forced to pay a dividend to the Treasury, in a partial departure from its current non-profit status.
John Whittingdale, the Culture Secretary, is also understood to be considering forcing the broadcaster to sell its landmark headquarters in Westminster and move to either Birmingham or Manchester. The relocation plans, first revealed by The Telegraph in June last year, have been dusted off after the idea of an outright sale of the broadcaster was blocked by Downing Street.
Sources said full privatisation has been rejected in part because as senior ministers feared an outcry from the creative sector if Channel 4 was sold at auction to the highest bidder, which could have meant an American media giant such as Discovery.
The Government is already facing attacks from actors and producers over Mr Whittingdale’s BBC reforms, which are due to be published in a White Paper on Thursday.
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