UK think tank says privatise Channel 4

UK think tank Policy Exchange has issued a radical blueprint for the UK broadcasting sector that envisages public service broadcaster Channel 4 being privatised and the BBC funding public service programming on non-BBC channels.

The report, Changing the Channel, was written by Mark Oliver, a former BBC strategy chief and head of the Oliver & Ohlbaum consultancy. It recommends that the BBC stops spending resources on sports rights and populist entertainment programming that is already provided by its commercial counterparts. The organisation should also set aside 5% of its £3bn (€3.4bn) licence fee income for third-party produced and broadcast public service programming, Policy Exchange said.

Another recommendation is that commercial broadcasters ITV and Five are permitted to opt out of the PSB system in 2012, relinquishing their PSB commitments. Five should also be allowed to merge with a privatised Channel 4, according to the think tank.

Policy Exchange argues the changes are necessary for public service programming in the UK to survive in the digital age.