Channel 4 is a publicly owned, non-profit organisation that invests its income back into commissioning content. It receives no public money and is funded entirely through its commercial activity. Most of its income comes from TV and online advertising.

On 6 July 2021, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport launched a consultation on a potential change of ownership of Channel 4. Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State, said this was needed because the broadcasting landscape had changed “beyond recognition” since Channel 4 began in 1982.

The Government’s preferred option at this stage is for a change to private ownership. According to the Government, this would give Channel 4 “greater access to new strategic and investment opportunities, allowing it to compete effectively in a more agile fashion and ensuring it has the best chance of a successful and sustainable future”.

The consultation is seeking respondents’ views on:

  • whether they agree that there are challenges in the current TV broadcasting market that present barriers to a sustainable Channel 4 in public ownership.
  • whether a continued Channel 4, with a continued public service broadcasting licence and remit, would be better placed to deliver sustainably against the government’s aims for public service broadcasting if it was outside public ownership.
  • what the economic, social and cultural costs and benefits might be to moving Channel 4 out of public ownership.

The consultation closes on 14 September 2021. 

For further background and a selection of comment, see the Library Briefing Paper, Channel 4 – a change of ownership? (20 July 2021).