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Government's sell off of Channel 4 branded an act of ‘cultural vandalism’

UNIONS and campaigners have branded the Tory scheme to sell off Channel 4 an act “cultural vandalism” as a backlash against the privatisation plans grow.

Announcing plans to privatise Channel 4, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said that a change of ownership would give it “the tools and freedom to flourish and thrive.”

But NUJ assistant general secretary Seamus Dooley said: “This is a wanton assault on a valued British institution disguised as a gift to the creative industry.

“The NUJ will strongly oppose this dangerous move.”

A spokesperson for Channel 4 said it was “disappointing” that the announcement hadn’t recognised the significant public interest concerns which have been raised during the consultation last year.

We Own It lead campaigner Tom Morton said: “Selling off Channel 4 would be an act of economic and cultural vandalism.

“The real reason for the privatisation is so that the government can yet again take public assets and put them in private pockets.”

Labour’s shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell said: “Of all the issues the public wants action on, the governance of Channel 4 isn’t one.

“The government should have a laser-like focus on the cost-of-living crisis, and help people with their bills, not be fiddling around like this for ideological reasons.”

Liberal Democrat culture spokesman Jamie Stone said that the “government seems hell-bent on trashing this uniquely British legacy.”

A number of Tories have also publicly come out against the sell-off plans.

Former culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, ex-Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, senior backbencher Tom Tugendhat, former Cabinet minister Damian Green, and the longest-serving MP Peter Bottomley have all slammed the privatisation plans.

Mr Hunt told Sky News: “I’m not in favour of it because I think that as it stands, Channel 4 provides competition to the BBC on what’s called public service broadcasting.”

Mr Bottomley said privatisation was “bad for the diversity of television, bad for viewers and bad for independent producers.”

Channel 4 was launched in 1982 by then prime minister Margaret Thatcher as a publicly owned, commercially funded public service broadcaster with a remit to deliver content to underserved audiences.

The broadcaster receives no public funding but is ultimately owned by the government.

No price tag has been set by the government yet, but reports suggest the channel could be fetch as much as £1 billion.

Plans for the sell-off will be included in the Queen’s Speech in May.

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