Channel 4 Eyes City Funding as Tories Mull Privatisation

14 November 2000

Publicly-owned Channel 4, eager to raise cash to fund its digital development, may turn to City of London institutions either to borrow or enter into private sector partnerships.

Such a move could coincide with a proposal in the Conservative Party election manifesto to privatise the channel – a topic currently under debate at Tory HQ.

For once, however, the Labour government is not displaying its new-found enthusiasm for privatisation and the communications white paper, due to be published next month, is not expected to moot changes to Channel 4 ownership. Labour ministers are eager to keep the broadcaster just as Margaret Thatcher created it: "Channel 4 is one of Mrs Thatcher's greatest achievements," said one senior Labour figure.

Privatisation is not a good idea, believes C4 chief executive Michael Jackson: “If we were just a straightforward commercial company, some of the values, some of the things we hold to be important would not be achievable."

But Jackson, eager to expand the channel’s digital and internet activities, believes that ad revenues alone are insufficient to finance the hoped-for growth: “We may want to raise some money that goes beyond our programming budget,” he said.

News source: Financial Times