Channel 4 could thrive as a social enterprise | Letters

Peter Holbrook suggests an alternative to privatisation, while Peter Grimsdale points out that if the Tories sold off the broadcaster they would be trashing a bit of their own heritage

Following the news that the culture secretary is expected to launch a consultation into the future of Channel 4 (C4 privatisation would lead to regional cuts, broadcaster warns, 22 June), we urge the government to allow it to convert into a social enterprise. This would enable the broadcaster to maintain its independence and continue to commission programmes that serve a diverse audience, and use its profits to support independent production companies.

The UK is home to 100,000 social enterprises – businesses set up to trade for a social and environmental purpose, which reinvest the majority of their profits to further these aims. They contribute £60bn to the economy, employ 2 million people, and offer a path away from the binary choice of state ownership or privatisation.

We cannot allow valuable national institutions to be sold off to those with the deepest pockets. Channel 4 has a vital role in supporting new talent, ensuring better regional representation and offering an independent, critical voice to those in positions of power. Converting this prized broadcaster into a social enterprise will allow it to showcase what an independent broadcaster, responsible to communities and not just another money-spinner, can look like.
Peter Holbrook
CEO, Social Enterprise UK

• In its enthusiasm to sell off Channel 4, does the government realise that it would be trashing a prize piece of Conservative heritage? It was no less than Margaret Thatcher’s fixer William Whitelaw, a positive mastodon among Tory big beasts, who was its founding father in 1982 and caused a thousand or more television production companies to bloom, many of which have gone on to become major international players.

And as for its former head of news Dorothy Byrne identifying the current prime minister as a “known liar”, well surely she was merely upholding the channel’s standards of factual accuracy.
Peter Grimsdale
Former Channel 4 commissioning editor, Dulwich, London

Have an opinion on anything you’ve read in the Guardian today? Please email us your letter and it will be considered for publication.

Letters

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Pitfalls of the BBC using independent production companies | Letter
Letters: The corporation already works with independents and is highly innovative, but is hampered by government policies, writes Steve Elliot

Letters

25, Sep, 2020 @3:44 PM

Article image
Channel 4 should make Salford its home | Letter
Letter: The television industry needs a counterweight to the pull of London, writes Wayne Garvie, president of international production at Sony Pictures Television

Letters

28, Oct, 2018 @5:36 PM

Article image
Channel 4 led the gay revolution in TV | Letter
Letter: Caroline Spry remembers the television channel’s pioneering programmes

Letters

05, Mar, 2019 @6:40 PM

Article image
BBC impartiality is under threat from all sides | Letters
Letters: The corporation is in danger of commercial censorship, writes Dr Kevin Bannon, Elizabeth Budd believes BBC TV news is increasingly cautious, while Nick Nuttgens thinks journalists are asking the wrong questions

Letters

11, Oct, 2020 @3:17 PM

Article image
The Guardian view on privatising Channel 4: it makes no economic sense | Editorial
Editorial: The arguments put forward for selling the broadcaster don’t add up. The impetus is ideological – and wrong-headed

Editorial

23, Jun, 2021 @5:37 PM

Article image
Don’t let tech giants bury public service TV | Letters
Letters: Public service television shows must remain easy for audiences to find, say the heads of ITV, the BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5, STV and S4C

Letters

15, Oct, 2018 @5:00 AM

Article image
Jade Goody, reality TV and the vilification of the working class | Letters
Letters: Len Hughes, Jonathan Hauxwell and Ann Tobin respond to the Channel 4 documentary on the reality TV star

Letters

12, Aug, 2019 @4:24 PM

Article image
Press freedom under political pressure | Letter
Letter: During the election it became clear that relationships with those sections of the media which Boris Johnson and his aides deem too critical would be difficult, writes MediaNorth editor Granville Williams

Letters

21, Jan, 2020 @6:30 PM

Article image
The Guardian view on politicians and interviewers: it’s time to talk again | Editorial
Editorial: The Channel 4 boss is right to challenge party leaders over the sharp recent reduction in access granted to journalists

Editorial

22, Aug, 2019 @5:35 PM

Article image
Headless chickens can still run a coup | Brief letters
Brief letters: Norman Foster | Prince Andrew | British summer time | Conservative takeover | Sir Jim Ratcliffe | Jesus saves

Letters

27, Sep, 2020 @4:05 PM