A video of media and culture secretary Nadine Dorries babbling after realising Channel 4 is not paid for by taxpayers is going viral.
The Tory Secretary of State confidently suggested in front of a select committee that it was her job to ensure Brits get value for money.
She said: “I would argue that to say that just because Channel 4 has been established as a public service broadcaster and just because it’s in receipt of public money, we should never kind of audit the future of Channel 4 and we should never evaluate how Channel 4 looks in the future and whether or not it’s a sustainable and viable model.
“It’s quite right that the government should do that.”
But committee member Damian Green pointed out Channel 4 “is not like the BBC”, as it makes its money from commercial operations rather than rely on license fee money from UK residents.
Dorries immediately appeared startled and babbled: “And… So… Although it’s… Yeah… And… That…”.
Hundreds of reactions ensued, with author Emma Kennedy calling the declarations “astonishing” and law professor Steve Peers saying Dorries is “painfully unfit for the office she holds”.
‘It’s right to properly evaluate Channel 4’
Dorries added she has not yet decided on whether Channel 4 will be privatised, in the light of a consultation with 60,000 responses.
She said: “I think what we are doing in terms of looking at the future of Channel 4, we are doing the same thing (as when we scrutinise the BBC). Is this going to be viable in the long term as a public service broadcaster? And that is all we are doing.
“I know there is all this speculation about ‘the decision has been made’ and ‘they are going to privatise Channel 4’ but we are not. We are evaluating the future of Channel 4 and whether it is a sustainable model.
“A decision has not been taken. When we get to the point of possibly taking a decision, when we get to the point of considering all the evidence, then we can probably have this discussion.
“But at the moment I think it is right and proper we evaluate the future of a public service broadcaster.”
She added: “I want to see all the evidence. I want to see a full commercial evaluation of Channel 4 and want to see what the future looks like for public service broadcasters.”
Related: Channel 4 warns of ‘irreversible damage’ and ‘different priorities’ amid privatisation plans