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UK Government plans to sell off Channel 4 have been slammed as, “stupid and ignorant” by a Renfrewshire MP.

The announcement by the UK Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries, was made on Monday and was immediately condemned by viewers and industry workers alike.

Currently the broadcaster is owned by the UK Government but is run on a commercial basis alongside sister channels such as E4 and More 4.

Last year the company generated a surplus of £74m to be reinvested into original programming across its channels.

Channel 4 celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, with the first transmission on 2nd November 1982.

The first voice to be heard on Channel 4 that day was of Paisley Tech graduate, Paul Coia, who opened transmissions for the new broadcaster at 4:40pm.

But fears are growing that the sell-off will lead to a drop in standards and an economic hit for the television industry, particularly in Scotland where dozens of independent producers make content for the station.

Around £200 million worth of programmes have been produced in Scotland since 2007, with hundreds of jobs dependent on continued spending on content.

The plans have been widely condemned, with the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Angus Robertson, calling them a “blow at the heart of public sector broadcasting.”

Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Scottish Sport, said he feared for sports and news coverage if the UK Government got their way.

He said:

“Privatising Channel 4 must rank as one of the stupidest and ignorant ideas from this government so far – and there’s some stiff competition for that accolade.

“Channel 4 has spent nearly 40 years providing TV programmes that in many cases have helped define our era.

“It doesn’t cost the taxpayer a single penny to have Channel 4 doing the work it does, yet such is the fanatical devotion of the Tories to the ‘free market’, they want it sold off to yet another corporation who will cut costs, centralise to London, and turn Channel 4 into yet another low-budget electronic garbage factory.

“Channel 4 has provided a platform for countless events that would otherwise have been ignored by other broadcasters, including their innovative & award-winning Paralympics coverage, women’s sport, high-quality news, current affairs, and so many other shows that private conglomerates simply will not touch.

“It’s hard to escape the conclusion that Boris Johnson and his hangers-on at the Culture Department don’t like how Channel 4 News challenges them on a daily basis, and simply want rid of their journalists.

“Myself and the SNP will fight these proposals every step of the way and try to keep Channel 4 under public ownership where it belongs."


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