Jon Snow emotionally signs off final Channel 4 News show
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On Thursday, Nadine Dorries was asked about reports that the veteran news anchor had shouted “f*** the Tories” at the 2017 Glastonbury Festival by the House of Commons digital, culture, media and sport select committee. She was questioned about her wider sentiments towards the broadcaster, after she announced the Government’s intention to sell the public stake in Channel 4.
At the hearing, Ms Dorries rejected claims that she was seeking vengeance against Channel 4 in doing so, suggesting such accusations were “laughable”.
The Culture Secretary told the select committee that she “gets on really well” with Channel 4 News presenter Cathy Newman, and had been asked to appear on the programme several times in the prior two weeks.
However, she added: “I have been on Channel 4 News a number of times. It is edgy.
“I am not going to justify a news programme whose anchor went out shouting obscenities about the Conservative Party.
“So they didn’t do themselves any favours sometimes on the news programme and I think that is probably as much as I want to say about that.”
Mr Snow retired as a presenter of Channel 4 News a few days before Christmas last year, after a remarkable 32 years at the helm.
Ms Dorries’ latest move comes as part of a wider shake-up of the broadcasters, hinting in January that the renewed licence fee would be the BBC’s last, and that the Government was considering alternate funding arrangements for the corporation.
At the hearing, she insisted privatisation would allow Channel 4 to raise investment, and that it was “a great time to sell”.
However, critics have argued this is another in a long line of state asset sell-offs, after the Government’s misjudged sale of its stake in Royal Mail and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Not least to object to the move is Channel 4 itself, which has stated it was “disappointing” that the Culture Secretary had opted to privatise despite “significant public interest concerns”.
Alex Mahon, Channel 4 chief executive, said privatisation would create “a negative impact on the creative industries across the UK”.
The broadcaster has been publicly owned since its creation in 1982 by Margaret Thatcher’s Government, and is entirely funded by advertising.
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Ms Dorries told the select committee that she “can’t see a scenario” in which a privately owned Channel 4 would become subscription based, and proposed a 10-year freeze on certain changes as a condition of sale.
Last month, Netflix suffered its first subscriber loss in over a decade, causing its shares to plunge 25 percent and prompting a review of its business model.
Ms Dorries had also suggested a subscription-based service as a potential funding model for the BBC as an alternative to the licence fee.
But the Netflix’s woes seems to have not dented her enthusiasm for the proposal; she said that people painting a picture of the streaming giant as “unsuccessful or struggling” was “slightly over-egging the pudding.
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“Netflix has done what many businesses do: it has reached the point of market saturation, which is a good thing for Netflix, but they are going to have to revise their business model.”
The Culture Secretary also confirmed the review of the BBC’s funding model would begin “considerably before the summer recess” starting on July 21, about two months away.
She added: “I anticipate it will take about six months and I want to get it started as soon as possible and we will be announcing the terms of reference for the review very shortly.”
Ms Dorries said her department would pay for the review, not the BBC, and would have an independent chair to avoid “conflict of interest”.
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