Politics Explained

Countdown begins to U-turn on Channel 4 privatisation

Opposition is growing to Nadine Dorries’ plans, writes Sean O’Grady

Friday 29 April 2022 22:39
<p>Every media appearance by Nadine Dorries, the minister in charge of the media, has been a car crash</p>

Every media appearance by Nadine Dorries, the minister in charge of the media, has been a car crash

The government did well to get a series of controversial bills on the statute book before parliament rose for recess.

The Elections Bill, the Nationality and Borders Bill and the Police Bill faced determined resistance, in the Lords especially. Amendments passed in the Lords were sent to the Commons and back again time and again. The game ended when the opposition gave up the fight, knowing that the government would be entitled to force the legislation through in the next session of parliament. The House of Lords, and Tory dissenters, must choose which hills to die on.

That parliamentary Iwo Jima could turn out to be the privatisation of Channel 4. On purely practical grounds it doesn’t seem to be a compelling priority. It would only raise £1bn; it would destroy jobs and regional media production companies in places such as Leeds and Northern Ireland – hardly levelling up – and the channel already coexists and collaborates with the streaming giants. Neither does it cost any public money, contrary to what culture secretary Nadine Dorries once stated. It appears very much a privatisation for the sake of it.

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