Interested parties have already started lining up to enquire about buying UK broadcaster Channel 4, following this week’s pull on the first lever of the process of sale by the British Government.
After UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries published the policy document ‘White Paper’ outlining the terms of sale, JP Morgan bankers have begun fielding preliminary offers, reports the Sunday Times. A sum as high as £2billion ($2.5billion has been mooted, double the amount initially estimated by the government, primarily because of its position on a high slot on TV guides.
Interest is likely to come from investors as well as other media companies, plus from those just curious to cast an eye on the books. Likely parties include ITV, Comcast which owns Sky, Paramount which owns Channel 5, as well as Discovery and French company Vivendi.
96% of respondents to the consultation process on the paper expressed their opposition to the proposal, but the government is pressing ahead, expressing their certainty that the sale of Channel 4 – which is state-owned and advertising-funded – will better enable the broadcaster to compete with streamers, while its public service remit will be enforced at the point of sale.
Critics are plentiful, including the CEO of Channel 4, Alex Mahon, who has long said that Channel 4 has been one of the industry’s biggest investors in digital content, and that its remit to commission from independent companies (it makes no in-house content) has been a significant champion of smaller content creators from around the UK.
The plans for sale are yet to go through parliament.