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ITV, Lord Michael Grade circle Channel 4 as privatisation comes closer

UK commercial broadcaster ITV is among those reportedly considering a takeover of its commercially funded pubcaster rival Channel 4 as the government looks to be pushing ahead with its plans to privatise the broadcaster.

Lord Michael Grade

Lord Michael Grade, who was CEO of C4 between 1988 and 1997, is also in the running to acquire the broadcaster, The Sunday Times reported over the weekend.

Lord Grade, who is also a former BBC chairman and ITV executive chairman and has been a Conservative Party life peer in the House of Lords since 2011, is currently chair of the board of directors at Miroma, a private company led by media entrepreneur Marc Boyan.

According to The Sunday Times, Miroma is said to be looking at potentially acquiring C4 with bankers at Rothschild.

Over the summer, the UK government launched a consultation on whether to sell the It’s A Sin and The Great British Bake Off broadcaster to a private owner, arguing that this would be the best way for C4 to compete with US streamers.

The final decision is expected later this year, while JP Morgan has been appointed by ministers to provide corporate finance advice on the potential change in ownership.

Along with ITV, Comcast-owned Sky, Discovery, which is set to merge with fellow US media giant WarnerMedia, and ViacomCBS are all reportedly been interested in the sale, while at least one US private equity firm has sought out advisors.

Bosses at C4 have been outspoken about their opposition to the controversial plans, with CEO Alex Mahon stating in September: “We have not seen any evidence that the irreversible change of privatising C4 will be in the interests of either British audiences or the UK’s economy, and it could well have serious and long-lasting consequences for our world-leading television production sector.”

Sections of the UK independent production sector have also been vocal in their opposition to privatisation, arguing the plans could see numerous indies go out of business if they go ahead.

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