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Presenter Jon Snow 'in favour of Channel 4 privatisation'

Published 25/09/2015

Presenter Jon Snow has presented Channel 4 News for more than 25 years
Presenter Jon Snow has presented Channel 4 News for more than 25 years

Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow has said he is "in favour" of the broadcaster's possible privatisation, after the Government inadvertently revealed its proposals.

The 67-year-old, who has presented the programme for more than 25 years, defended the network, saying any plans would have to be well thought-out.

Snow said at the Radio Times Festival: "As you would imagine, I am vigorously in favour of privatisation of Channel 4, not least because I am thinking of buying share options.

" But then, when I think about it, I think there is something very precious about the settlement that is Channel 4. It's a very successful television station, which generates a very great deal of money, all of which goes back into making programmes, and particularly making the news, which is very, very expensive. Very good news coverage is seriously expensive."

He continued: "I'm not myself opposed necessarily to privatisation. If anything, if it works much better than any other way, that's the right thing to do.

"But what I'm arguing here is it's a very, very delicate set-up, and if you move a bit of it about, it may break, and therefore it's worth preserving."

Snow added: "Channel 4 doesn't make anything at all, so you might even say - shove that. But actually what it does is to commission. It commissions other people to make stuff, so it is a fantastic generator of small industries, small production companies who make very interesting, textured programmes.

"And one of the production companies they commission is ITN, who make Channel 4 News."

A memo with the heading Assessment Of Channel 4 Corporation Reform Options, said to be held by an official in Downing Street, was posted on Twitter by freelance photographer Steve Back (@PoliticalPics).

The "official - sensitive: commercial" document, dated September 24 2015, noted there has been a recent meeting between Cabinet Office Minister Matthew Hancock and two unnamed secretaries of state, with the phrases "extracting greater public value" and "focusing on privatisation options in particular" clearly visible.

In response to the photo, a Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) spokeswoman said: "The Government has made no decisions regarding reform of Channel 4.

"Channel 4 has an important remit and we are looking at a range of options as to how to continue to deliver this, including options put forward by Channel 4."

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale has previously denied any plans to privatise the state-owned, commercially funded broadcaster, while refusing to rule it out in the future.

At the Edinburgh TV festival in August, he said: "The ownership of Channel 4 is not currently under debate. Do I say there are no circumstances in which I would ever consider it? No, I don't."

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