Channel 4 chief executive David Abraham lays out the consequences of privatisation


By Tony Connelly | Sports Marketing Reporter

October 14, 2015 | 3 min read

Channel 4’s chief executive David Abraham has warned the culture select committee that privatisation would harm the broadcaster’s public service programming commitments and independent production companies.

David Abraham Channel 4 CEO warns of privatisation

Speaking to the House of Commons culture select committee Abraham said that in order for a privatised Channel 4 to be competitive with its rivals it would need to make around £200m in annual profits.

He warned that this would jeopardise the “fierce independence” of Channel 4’s news and current affairs coverage and would force it to cut back significantly in its work with the 500 independent production companies it partners with.

David Abraham Channel 4 CEO warns of privatisation

Abraham, who previously worked in the private sector at companies including UKTV and Discovery, said that a commercial viewpoint adopted through privatisation would see channel 4 “go for more entertainment, more foreign acquisitions and more programmes with international appeal”.

He went on to say that a large international company would inevitably “pump money into Channel 4 and aggressively pursue a commercial schedule that could compete with ITV.”

The latest marketing news and insights straight to your inbox.

Get the best of The Drum by choosing from a series of great email briefings, whether that’s daily news, weekly recaps or deep dives into media or creativity.

Sign up

He envisaged how privatisation would harm the editorial freedom of its broadcasting in commenting “I can imagine getting a call in the middle of the night from a shareholder sharing their view about something we were going to air that was going to have a lot of impact. That does happen in the commercial sector. The nature of that coverage would subtly change over time. And the fierce independence of our journalism, I can’t help but think, would alter over time.”

Channel 4 recently invested in a new Manchester city centre office in order to support its work with independent production companies as well as its commercial and creative partners. The new North West hub on King Street will be headed by Ewan Douglas and will feature an open hub space with up to 15 hot desks and meeting rooms for up to 60 people.


More from Media

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +