Controversial plans to privatize Channel 4 are set to be dropped as British PM Rishi Sunak reassesses campaign and policy pledges made by his past two predecessors and gears up to set his own legislative agenda, according to new reports.
Sunak’s office has signaled his decision to scrap the sale of Channel 4 to industry heads and throughout Whitehall, the FT reported Friday morning. The sale is expected to be dropped from the upcoming media bill.
The plans to sell Channel 4 were initially drawn up under Boris Johnson. The public service broadcaster is owned by the state but self-funded through advertising.
Rishi Sunak had previously backed the decision during his failed campaign to become Conservative party leader earlier this summer, arguing that the channel needed a commercial owner to help it compete with streamers like Netflix. However, The FT reports that Sunak had been privately skeptical of the case for selling Channel 4.
Last month, Michelle Donelan, the current Culture secretary who was appointed under former prime minister Liz Truss, said she was “re-examining the business case” for selling Channel 4 and a final decision could be expected in the coming weeks.
The planned sale of Channel 4 had faced strong opposition from both MPs and industry professionals. In September, more than 750 indies including major groups such as All3Media and Banijay signed an open letter organized by UK trade body Pact urging Truss and Sunak — who were both in the running for Number 10 — to “reconsider plans” to sell the broadcaster.