Channel 4 and mutual ownership – Labour proposal

There have been quite a few posts on here already about C4 privatisation. This is an interesting twist, from The Co-operative Party (sister-party to the UK Labour Party) – proposing that control of Channel 4 could (via Broadcast [£]) be

“…handed to indies, staff or the general public under innovative plans to transform the business into a John Lewis-style co-operative model, set out by opposition parties.

The Co-operative party, a longstanding partner to the Labour party whose membership includes Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin and Labour MPs Stella Creasy and Alex Sobel, has set out an ambition for C4 to be ‘mutualised’ to enshrine its public ownership.”

They quote The Co-op Party’s policy cheif, Anna Birley saying…

“They want C4 to be able to compete with the streamers and be more sustainable…. a mutual model would enable it to raise capital through democratic share issues which wouldn’t change ownership to private investors.”

Tailing this with a rare personal observation (i.e. this not official union policy!!), I still think that the key battleground here is in issue of establishing the commercial and diplomatic value of production that aims to get large share of single domestic markets and then re-sell them as “an authentic british voice.”

The SVoDs seem very good at producing content that …

  • doesn’t have  a strong local voice,
  • keeps all of the IP for the US commissioners, (in the way that deficit-financed productions don’t)
  • is designed to get a small share of many markets rather than a larger share of fewer markets.

It’s a bizarre thing for the government that borought us Brexit to be proposing. It will damage long-term profitability of the UK cultural sector, it will reduce the soft-power that the UK exercises (watch out for some forthcoming BFI research on this) and – perhaps most pertinently – it will reduce the quality of TV content that is available to UK audiences.

This entry was posted in Film & TV industry policy, Ownership & Control, Public Service Broadcasting, Quotas, Regulation, SVoD and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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