ALCS welcomes reversal of Channel 4 privatisation

ALCS is delighted that the government has confirmed Channel 4 will remain publicly owned and believes that changes to the broadcaster’s remit will be beneficial for the creative sector.

Secretary of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Michelle Donelan, announced on 5 January that the Government will not privatise Channel 4, after reviewing the business case. We welcome this decision wholeheartedly after campaigning with the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain and other sector organisations to stop the sale from going ahead.

We are encouraged by the Secretary of State’s engagement with the sector and acknowledgement of the impact any change to Channel 4’s public broadcaster remit would have on writers.

New Terms

The announcement comes with changes to the terms of Channel 4’s remit as a public broadcaster, which will be set out fully in the upcoming Media Bill.

DCMS Secretary Michelle Donelan has decided to relax the publisher-broadcaster legislative restriction on Channel 4. This will allow the broadcaster more room to make and own original content rather than relying wholly on commissioning or acquiring content from third parties. This decision will enable the organisation to become more financially sustainable.

A further welcome change agreed between Channel 4 and the Government is centred around skills programmes and investing in the talent pipeline in the creative industries throughout the UK.

We are hopeful these changes will offer greater opportunities to writers in the audiovisual sector and we expect the broadcaster to set an industry standard by offering creatives fair terms in contracts and appropriate remuneration.

Our reaction

Barbara Hayes, ALCS CEO, commented:

“Last year, we expressed deep concern about Government plans to privatise Channel 4.

This recent development is a positive win for ALCS and all the writers we represent. It protects our members from any further damage to their earning potential. Since the publication of our most recent authors’ earnings report at the end of last year, we are more keenly aware than ever, how fragile a position writers are in economically.

The decision has also stopped any unnecessary damage to a thriving creative sector which provides immense economic and cultural value to the UK, year on year.”