Channel 4 could be sold off

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The Independent Online
CHANNEL 4 television could be sold off by the Government after the next election, it emerged yesterday.

Following the proposed sale of pounds 12bn worth of state assets, disclosed by Gordon Brown last week, Alistair Darling, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, refused to rule out a Channel 4 sale yesterday. He told BBC television's On the Record that while the Government would give the Post Office greater commercial freedom within the public sector, there were no plans for a sale of Channel 4.

The Conservatives said during the 1992 election that they had "no plans" to extend the scope of value-added tax - before slapping the tax on domestic fuel and power bills. The "no plans" phrase means that while nothing is going to happen in the next few months, it cannot be ruled out for the future.

According to Mr Darling's register, the value of the Channel Four Corporation's assets alone were worth more than pounds 80m at the start of last year.

Channel 4 at present holds an Independent Television Commission licence to broadcast for the decade up to 2002.