Two-thirds of Campaign readers oppose privatisation of Channel 4

Just one in eight in favour of sell-off in reader survey.

The Great British Bake Off: one of Channel 4's biggest shows
The Great British Bake Off: one of Channel 4's biggest shows

Campaign readers are overwhelmingly opposed to plans by the government to privatise Channel 4, a website poll has revealed.

Campaign asked readers to give their opinion as an advertising professional, recognising that while some may be sceptical of the move as a viewer, the question of which outcome would be most beneficial to the ad industry is separate. 

Of about 900 logged-in users of Campaign's website who responded, just over half (51%) said they were strongly against privatisation, with a further 17% saying they were somewhat against a sale of the Great British Bake Off and Gogglebox broadcaster.

In total, more than two-thirds (68%) opposed the plans.

One in eight respondents (13%) said they were in favour of privatisation, with 7% strongly in favour and 6% somewhat in favour. The remaining 19% said they were neutral on the issue.

A breakdown of the 900 readers by brands, creative and media agencies and media owners revealed broadly similar views.

Privatisation is on the agenda, after Oliver Dowden, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, confirmed in June that he would hold a consultation on a possible sale of Channel 4.

The broadcaster was set up by Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1982 to offer alternative and diverse programming and has remained publicly owned – although it receives no public subsidy and is funded chiefly through advertising. 

Dowden has argued that consumers have more choice, and global streaming platforms pose a threat to free-to-air broadcasting.

However, speaking at a news conference for Channel's 4 annual results, chief executive Alex Mahon cautioned that privatisation would be “irreversible” and argued any decision needed to be rooted in evidence.

In a Campaign feature last month, David Pemsel, global chief executive of ScienceMagic and the former marketing director of ITV, said: “At a time when public-service broadcasting battles for our cultural share of mind against the deep-pocketed streaming platforms, Channel 4 needs to remain ‘independently different’ to serve both audiences and the advertisers who support and fund its programming.”

Jenny Biggam, founding partner at the7stars, was more open-minded about a sale, saying: “Any new owner would need to invest in Channel 4’s core values and its well-loved and unique broadcasting style. The whole industry is gunning for it to succeed and a commercial boost from a committed investor could be positive but only if the broadcaster is able to keep its sharp edges.”

Topics