Two leading screenwriters have slammed the ‘vicious’ plan to privatize UK broadcaster Channel 4 (C4), just as the government sale was left hanging after Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigned.
Johnson today announced his intention to step down after a wave of government resignations this week, while legislation to privatize C4 was due to be published in the coming weeks.
C4 is currently showing The Undeclared War, a six-part current affairs drama from writer and director Peter Kosminsky imagining future cyber warfare and the team at government communications center GCHQ deployed to prevent an impending UK election. Kingdom does not fall into chaos.
Kosminsky previously directed The State for C4, as well as the TV movie The Government Inspector and The Promise, and called the broadcaster “brave, responsive, ambitious and very sympathetic to program makers”.
“And they are brave for the public,” he told C21. “They don’t always say, ‘Well, the audience won’t understand that,’ which in my experience is rubbish. If what you’re doing makes sense and is part of a compelling story, you’re not dating your audience – and Channel 4 takes a very similar view. But it is the very things that make Channel 4 such a brilliant and unusual place to work that are directly threatened by this vicious proposal.
“If Channel 4 is taken over by an international conglomerate, it will undoubtedly secure its financial future, as it would not be bought to fail. But it will have no sort of continuing obligation to produce the sorts of uniquely British programs for which it is justifiably well known.
The fact that C4 is overseen by UK media regulator Ofcom also means that it has an obligation to create distinctly British programming – a consideration that does not apply to all of the global streamers at work on the channel. international scene.
“A lot of things I’ve done in the relatively recent past are mostly British stories with British characters at their centre,” continued Kosminsky, who is currently developing a drama about the Grenfell Tower tragedy for the BBC.
“I don’t know what interest there would be in Wisconsin. C4 and the other public service broadcasters have a regulatory obligation to make programs for us, for the British public, and my theory is that the great work they have done is going to disappear [if privatisation happens].
“What really scares me is that there is no electorate for this change. It was not in the Conservative manifesto. Polls consistently suggest that there is no majority for this in the Parliamentary Conservative Party. There’s not really a financial rationale for this, as C4 is doing pretty well right now. The only reason for this is narrow political dogma. Because this branch of this Conservative Party has an ideological objection to any public property. And their instinct is just to sell everything, no matter what cultural damage it may cause. And that’s why I called it vicious, because it’s vicious. And the British public will be worse off.
Likewise, Tony Grisoni has a history of doing drama for C4, including the acclaimed Red Riding trilogy, Southcliffe and an episode of the Philip K Dick anthology Electric Dreams.
“So much is under threat and C4 is one of them. It would be a major loss,” he told C21 during the French Série Series televised conference.
“The C4 isn’t quite what it was when it started, but it’s still here. It’s still a strong voice. It would be a big mistake to lose him, and there’s no one else for that [the privatisation], there is only this government. And this government also wants to punish the BBC. But this government is not known for its interest in culture. They’re just a bunch of Philistines.