Without knowing a thing, no-nothing Nadine sets about selling off Channel 4…

YOU won’t find much praise round here for Margaret Thatcher, but one exception is the way she shaped Channel 4.

In 1982, Thatcher’s Conservative government, never my favourite, did one good thing in establishing Channel 4 to create an independent television production sector in the UK. Now her descendants want to rip up what their heroine once helped to create.

As former channel boss Dorothy Byrne reminds us…

“Unlike the BBC or ITV, it was not to make any of its own programmes, not even its flagship Channel 4 News. All over the UK, independent companies sprang up to make its content. In the 40 years since, they have made billions of pounds – not just for themselves but also for Britain, selling their wares around the world. And, unlike the BBC, they have spoken with many voices, bringing diverse and radical ideas to the fore which had barely been heard before in mainstream broadcasting…” (The Guardian, April 5, 2022).

Having floated the idea of this sell-off, the government sought wider opinion and 90% of those who responded were against the idea. But Boris Johnson’s know-nothing government still wants to go ahead with this destructive act, more red meat for the baying right-wingers in his party.

The latest announcement fell to the never knowingly over-prepared culture secretary Nadine Dorries.

You may recall that Dorries polished her know-nothing credentials last November when she appeared before a select committee of MPs and claimed that Channel 4 is “in receipt of public money”.

No, No Nadine. Channel 4 is funded from advertising, taking no money from the public coffers, and ploughing all its income into making more programmes. A sound and sensible arrangement.

You might have thought the culture secretary should know that, but Dorries blundered across the rutted acres of her own ignorance with barely a blush.

Much like that time she stumbled into a meeting with Microsoft and reportedly asked the company when it was going to “get rid of its algorithms”.

One theory behind the reason for this sale is that Johnson took against Channel 4 when he was replaced by a melting ice sculpture after he declined to attend an election debate about climate change.

Day after grubby day, that discredited man pulls us down.  Never overlook his pettiness; never forget the bite beneath the bluster.

As for Dorries, she believes that “government ownership is holding Channel 4 back from competing against streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon”.

Back again to Dorothy Byrne…

“Channel 4 is not there to compete with Netflix and Amazon. It is there to provide public service programming which promotes discussion and debate.”

Dorries also says that the profits from any sale could be ploughed back into “creative training” and into independent production companies. Er, the very companies who already make all the programmes for Channel 4 and whose existence is threatened by this utterly pointless sell-off.

Comparing Channel 4 to Netflix is meaningless – and conveniently overlooks that the streaming giant has a reported debt of £11.8bn, next to Channel 4’s debt of, ahem, nothing.

And you will be looking for a long time before you spot a Netflix reporter on the ground in Ukraine or anywhere else. Channel 4 News is often the strongest news service around, braver than the BBC and more willing to explore un-furrowed ground.

Smashing up the unique structure of Channel 4 so that it can be flogged off to a private company will threaten rather that secure its future. Just imagine if Murdoch got hold of it.

These are just the thoughts of one man sitting on a ledge. Here are the thoughts of others, including a Tory or two, as aired on Twitter…





And a final word from me. If it ain’t broke, don’t fuck it up.


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