Former Channel 4 boss says broadcaster must be privatised to protect taxpayers - Telegraph
Conservative Lord Grade said Channel 4 must become a 'fully-fledged business' to keep up with competitors as ministers refuse to rule out selling off the channel

Channel 4 must be sold off by the Government and become a "fully-fledged business" in order to keep up with competitors, a former chief executive of the broadcaster has warned.

Lord Grade of Yarmouth told a House of Lords debate that the current settlement is not fit for purpose and presents "a risk" to the public purse.

He said the situation faced by executives at Channel 4 has changed dramatically since he worked there.

The Conservative peer said: "The current settlement for Channel 4 is no longer fit for purpose and puts a risk on the public purse because the taxpayers, in the end, are the shareholders of last resort.

"The world has changed dramatically, and the commercial threats to Channel 4 are a 100-fold greater than they were when I was there as part of the present settlement, and it is absolutely time that the channel has a new settlement that enables it to change its modus operandi and become a fully fledged business."

Responding, Baroness Neville-Rolfe the culture minister did not rule out privatising the broadcaster and said the Government is looking at all options for Channel 4.

She agreed that the channel, which is popular for its alternative content, faces a "challenging and fast paced environment", adding that "no decisions have been made".

Lady Neville-Rolfe said: "The Government wants to ensure it has a strong and secure future.

"We are looking at a wide range of options to help deliver this including those proposed by Channel 4's own leadership, and those involving private investment."

But there was opposition to the proposal in the Lords as some raised concerns about the future of public service broadcasting without Channel 4.

Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury said: "Privatisation would have a negative impact on the channel's delivery of news, current affairs, diversity, and on the plurality of public service broadcasting in general."