Britain scraps plan to sell broadcaster Channel 4

FILE PHOTO: General view of Channel 4 Television studios in London

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain on Thursday scrapped plans to sell the publicly-owned Channel 4 broadcaster, with the station instead gaining greater commercial flexibility to help secure its future.

"After reviewing the business case and engaging with the relevant sectors I have decided that Channel 4 should not be sold," Michelle Donelan, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said in a statement.

The sale of Channel 4, which is funded by advertising and receives no public money, was announced by former prime minister Boris Johnson's government in April 2022, triggering criticism from lawmakers across all parties and the broadcasting industry.

The broadcaster was created in the 1980s to deliver a distinctive alternative to the BBC and ITV, and its unique model with no in-house production kick-started Britain's thriving independent production sector.

The government said the publisher-broadcaster restriction in Channel 4's remit, whereby independent producers retain the rights to programmes, would be relaxed to give the broadcaster a greater ability to produce and monetise its own content.

It said the independent production sector would be consulted on the changes to ensure Channel 4's role in driving investment in the sector was safeguarded.

(Reporting by Muvija M and Paul Sandle; editing by William James)