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Channel 4 will sell out for at least £1billion ahead of the next election

CHANNEL 4 will be sold by the government in time for the next elections, ministers told the broadcaster tonight.

The biggest privatization since the Royal Mail flogging in 2013 is expected to raise more than £1billion and be completed by 2024.

The Channel 4 building in London

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The Channel 4 building in LondonCredit: Alamy

But it risks a gem of British culture falling into the hands of streaming giants Netflix or Amazon.

A new flagship media law will be the focus of next month’s Queen’s Speech, which will set out the Government’s legislative agenda for the year.

New legislation allows the sale of the C4, created under Margaret Thatcher in 1982 as a disruptor for the BBC and ITV.

But ministers will argue that a sale is in the organisation’s best interests as it gives it more freedom to privately raise money and keep its own content in the streaming age.

The move is expected to spark a massive backlash following clashes between the Channel and the Tories ahead of the 2019 election.

This year, Channel 4 boss Dorethy Byrne was slammed after branding Boris Johnson a “known liar” and a “coward” and comparing him to Putin during a tirade at a TV festival.

And former Channel 4 News main presenter Jon Snow was caught on camera at Glasto in 2017 yelling “f— the Tories”.

But ministers will argue that a sale is in the organisation’s best interests as it gives it more freedom to privately raise money and keep its own content in the streaming age.

Last night, a senior government source said: “Ministers have decided that while C4 is currently doing well as a company, state ownership is holding it back in the face of a rapidly changing and competitive media landscape.”

They added: “A change of ownership will remove its straitjacket and give C4 the freedom to innovate and grow so it can thrive and prosper long into the future and support the UK creative industry as a whole.”

Proceeds from the sale are understood to be earmarked to increase funds “to put money into independent productions and broader creative capabilities in priority parts of the country.”

Sources insist every buyer must pass a ‘Fit and Proper Person’ test by regulator Ofcom, but the final decision on who to sell to will rest with the Prime Minister and Culture Secretary.

Insiders insisted Channel 4 would need a “continued commitment to prime-time news” and “we will ensure it continues to make an important social, economic and cultural contribution to Britain”.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/politics/18165085/channel-4-sold-off-billion-next-election/ Channel 4 will sell out for at least £1billion ahead of the next election

Bobby Allyn

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