United Kingdom

Boris Johnson's efforts to privatise Channel 4 are in jeopardy due to 'serious reservations'

Boris Johnson's attempt to privatise Channel 4 is being jeopardised by opposition from within the Civil Service, The Mail on Sunday understands.

Senior mandarins have expressed 'serious reservations' about the plan, which comes after months of tensions between No 10 and the broadcaster over its funding model and allegedly woke agenda.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has concluded that the channel does not have a viable future in the face of the multi-billion budgets of the US streaming giants unless an 'alternative ownership model' is explored. 

But No 10 has been told by the Cabinet Office that privatisation offers 'no value to the taxpayer'.

 Boris Johnson's attempt to privatise Channel 4 is being jeopardised by opposition from within the Civil Service, as senior mandarins have expressed 'serious reservations' about the plan

The station, launched in 1982, is a Government-owned but commercially funded public service broadcaster, with a remit to broadcast 'diverse, alternative and challenging programming that appeals to a younger audience'.

One example of such output was the much-criticised spoof Queen's Christmas Day speech, with jibes aimed at Harry and Meghan and Prince Andrew. 

It was branded woke rubbish, disgusting and mean-spirited by viewers.

Channel 4 chairman Charles Gurassa wrote to Mr Dowden to say the Government risks 'sleepwalking into the irreversible and risky sale of an important, successful and much-loved British institution'.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden (pictured) has concluded that the channel does not have a viable future in the face of the multi-billion budgets of the US streaming giants

It moved its headquarters to Leeds in 2019 to try to head off the threat of privatisation.

Some Tory backbenchers have also raised objections to the move, with MP Andrew Mitchell arguing that the issue should not be characterised as a Tories versus Channel 4 debate. 

He said that there were 'many of us within the Conservative Party who are questioning' the proposals.

The channel, whose current licence runs until 2024, was valued at £1 billion in 2016, but the value of free-to- air broadcasters since has taken a fall in the face of competition from streaming services and a drop in advertising spending.

Last night a spokesman for Mr Dowden denied that senior civil servants had argued against the privatisation.

Football news:

Pep Guardiola: I hope Messi will play with Man City - for the good of football
Maurizio Sarri: You can't compare Serie A with the Premier League - they are at a different level in terms of the quality of players, speed. But there are ideas in Italy
Torpedo Vladimir about the detention of Shinnik fans by the police: We have nothing to do with this. We were preparing for the reception
Watzke on the transfer of Holand: There is still no decision whether he will leave in the summer
Ibrahimovic will not play with Atletico. He can return to the ranks after a pause for national team matches
Mbappe complains about Neymar, and Donnarumme feels bad behind Navas (but Messi is for him). Against this background, PSG has 8 out of 8 in the league
Arsenal demolished Tottenham for the first half of the derby. A hole in the support zone and a completely unprepared Kane helped