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Should ITV be allowed to buy Channel 4?

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22.09.2021

Potential bidders including ITV are eyeing a possible acquisition of Channel 4 as the government considers a sale.

A formal consultation closed on 14 September and submissions from ISBA and the IPA have raised concerns about privatisation, arguing it could "weaken competition" and drive up ITV ad prices.

About 50 ad industry leaders have signed a letter, "4ThePeople", organised by Campaign, calling for the government to keep Channel 4 in public ownership and arguing that agencies and their clients are "best served by a plural media landscape".

Channel 4's current, not-for-profit model means that ad revenues are funnelled back into programming, allowing the broadcaster to invest in unique content such as the recent Black To Front Project, dedicated to black talent and creativity, and to make big bets such as buying the live rights to the US Open tennis final featuring Emma Raducanu from Amazon Prime Video and showing no ads.

ITV has not commented on whether it would be interested in buying Channel 4 but the possibility has already alarmed some advertisers because a combined ITV-Channel 4 would have significant scale – close to 70% share of the TV ad market.

Yet there could be some reasons in favour of selling Channel 4 to another media company.

A bigger owner might have greater........

© campaign


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