Conservative MPs launch bid to stop sell-off of Channel 4

A selection of senior Conservative MPs have called on the PM to drop plans to privatise Channel 4.

In a letter to the prime minister, MPs, including former culture secretary Karen Bradley and ex-cabinet minister Damian Green, insisted that the case for privatisation has not been made. They argued it would damage the “levelling up” agenda, and run contrary to the founding vision of Margaret Thatcher.  

Channel 4 has been under government ownership since its 1982 launch during Thatcher’s first term. However, the channel is seen by some Conservatives as prone to political bias, which defenders of Channel 4 believe is driving the reform plans.

The signatories also included Tom Tugendhat, the chair of the foreign affairs select committee, as well as the former minister Stephen Hammond and two MPs from “red wall” seats – Simon Fell (Barrow and Furness) and Andy Carter (Warrington South). 

The letter reads: “Margaret Thatcher created Channel 4 as a publicly owned, non-profit public sector broadcaster that would act as an incubator for independent, risk-taking, innovative private sector companies. She had a vision to level up the broadcasting landscape and she succeeded spectacularly well. We should maintain her legacy, not put it at risk”.

Last year, the then-Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced a review of Channel 4’s structure.