Britain is considering selling the Channel 4 public broadcaster as part of its drive to pay down debt, a government official has accidentally revealed.
An official was photographed on Thursday outside No. 10 Downing St, the residence of Prime Minister David Cameron, carrying a document which said the government was considering its options for Channel 4, which is publicly owned but funded by advertising.
“In your recent meeting with Matt Hancock (Cabinet Office minister) you agreed that work should proceed to examine the options for extracting greater public value for the Channel 4 Corporation (C4C), focussing on privatisation options in particular,” the document, which was published on Twitter by a press photographer, says.
The document was addressed to two government ministers.
The British government has been looking to sell some state-owned assets in an effort to pay off debt and has in recent years sold the majority of its holding in postal operator Royal Mail and reduced its stake in Lloyds Bank.
Channel 4 was launched in 1982 with a remit to promote innovative and experimental programming and to compete with the state-owned BBC and ITV. It buys all its programming from third-party production companies and has broadcast such shows as Big Brother, Homeland and Friends.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Media said no decision had been taken regarding the “reform of Channel 4”. The Financial Times reported earlier this year that a sale of Channel 4 could raise more than 1 billion pounds ($1.5 bln).
“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,” the spokeswoman said.