Launched in 1982 by Margaret Thatcher’s government as a culturally challenging alternative to the BBC and ITV, Channel 4 has always been commercially funded through advertising despite being publicly owned.
But now, the culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, says it is time to privatise the broadcaster. The government hopes to raise £1bn from the sale.
Guardian media editor Jim Waterson tells Nosheen Iqbal that although Channel 4 built its reputation on innovative, edgy programming – and is beloved for greenlighting the kinds of shows that would have never found a home elsewhere – it has in recent years annoyed the Conservative party with its political coverage. Now, the government says, it is time for Channel 4 to find a way to compete directly with streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon.
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