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UK entertainment unions join forces to oppose Channel 4 privatisation

Bosses at five of the UK’s leading entertainment unions have written to the UK government urging them to rethink their plans to privatise Channel 4 (C4).

Philippa Childs

The Federation of Entertainment Unions (FEU) has written to UK culture secretary Nadine Dorries to urge her to reconsider the government’s plans to privatise the commercially funded public service broadcaster.

The FEU, which together represent over 120,000 UK creative workers, said it is “deeply concerned that the sale of such a profitable network will have major consequences for the UK broadcasting landscape, and will deal a major blow to the UK’s creative workforce, who are critical to the success of the broadcasting sector.”

Independent analysis by Ernst & Young has indicated that the UK’s creative industries could be £2bn (US$2.4bn) worse off under privatisation, while 2,400 jobs in the creative industries could be put at risk and at least 60 production companies put at risk of closure.

The FEU also argues that privatisation would jeopardise the significant contribution C4 makes to the government’s levelling up agenda via its investment that is spread across the nations and regions, including opening regional headquarters, job creation and new opportunities for film and TV workers.

The letter is signed by Bectu, Equity, the National Union of Journalists, the Musicians’ Union and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain.

FEU president and head of Bectu, Philippa Childs, said: “Channel 4 costs the UK taxpayer precisely nothing, yet gives us a thriving independent production sector, thousands of jobs and world-renowned, innovative content.

“Selling this much-loved and entirely self-sustaining public service broadcaster will deal a major blow to the creative industries, who were among the hardest hit by the pandemic and continue to face a chronic skills shortage, and have major consequences for the UK broadcasting landscape.
“On behalf of our over 120,000 members and the UK’s creative workforce, we call on the Secretary of State to keep this uniquely British institution in public hands. Industry, workers and the public have made their opposition clear, it’s now time that the government listens.”

The letter can be read in full here.

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