Producers’ organisation Pact has written a letter to incoming Prime Minister Liz Truss calling for her to reconsider plans to privatise Channel 4.
The letter, which was sent last week to Conservative Party leadership candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, was signed by over 750 indies.
Truss was announced as the winner of the Conservative leadership contest on 5 September, and takes over from Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Honouring Thatcher’s legacy
The Pact letter says that Channel 4’s commissioning model has helped thousands of independent production companies get off the ground, and contributed to building a thriving sector. “Current plans could have a devastating impact not only on these production companies, but also on the country’s levelling up efforts.”
The letter calls on Truss to honour Margaret Thatcher’s legacy and to “uphold the very organisation she set up.”
“Her aim with Channel 4 was to create a disruptive force that would spark competition and inspire entrepreneurship. She achieved just that, leading to the creation of the flourishing independent TV and film production sector we see today. It is one of few that have rebounded completely from the pandemic, contributing revenue to the Treasury and the economy.”
A loss of £4.3 billion?
The letter says that bringing Channel 4 into private ownership would hurt the sector that Mrs Thatcher helped to build, as it would enable a new buyer to consolidate production in-house and commission far less from independent companies. “Over the next decade, it estimated that this shift to in-house production would lead to a loss of £4.2 billion to our thriving independent film and TV sector.”
Pact says that privatisation would damage independent production companies based outside London, by substantially cutting the quota for the level of spend required from Channel 4 in the nations and regions. “55% of Channel 4’s spend goes to companies based in the nations and regions, and this will fall to just a 35% quota under private ownership. Channel 4 has also recently opened headquarters in Leeds, but cost-cutting under new ownership could see jobs and opportunities at risk.”