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David Puttnam

Puttnam: Don't privatise C4

Puttnam: Don't privatise C4

29 June, 2016

Puttnam: Don't privatise C4

Channel 4 should not be privatised in full or in part, says former deputy chair Lord Puttnam.

Lord Puttnam’s Future for Public Service Television Inquiry has called on the government not to sell off the broadcaster and to clarify its future “as soon as possible”.

“Recently, Channel 4 has been threatened with privatisation, in whole or in part, a proposal that would threaten its public service remit,” Puttnam wrote in the report.

Culture secretary John Whittingdale told a cross-party committee earlier this month that he was refusing to rule out either a partial or full sell of C4.

The fate of the broadcaster has been expected to be decided before parliament’s summer recess on 21 July, pending discussions with C4’s board. It’s not clear whether the UK’s decision to leave the EU and the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron will impact this timetable.

Chariots of Fire director Puttnam, who was deputy chair of C4 from 2006 to 2012, said the broadcaster has a “critical place” in the public service ecology.

He welcomed its support of the independent production sector and its range of diverse content.

However, he said that the broadcaster should arrest the decline in arts programming and commission more series for teenagers.

“C4 should significantly increase its provision for older children and young adults and restore some of the arts programming that has been in decline in recent years,” he added.

ITV & C5

Lord Puttnam also recommended that commercial broadcasters ITV and Channel 5 should remain part of the public service television ecology, but added that both should contribute more.

As he discussed at Sheffield Doc/Fest last month, Puttnam’s report stated that ITV should increase its current affairs output to 90 minutes a week. This would equate to 78 hours a year, which is an 81% increase on its current 43-hour minimum obligation.

ITV should also increase the amount on regional non-news programmes it airs from 15 minutes to 30 minutes per week, the reort said.

Meanwhile, Puttnam recommended that Viacom-owned Channel 5, which airs the Milkshake! block, should have its voluntary commitment to children’s programming embedded in its licence with specific commitments to UK-originated kids content.

Written by Peter White

Source: Broadcast Now 

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