Claudia Webbe MP claims Tory privatisation of Channel 4 is 'seedbed of fascism'

The Independent MP for Leicester East has slammed the move as "not freedom or independence"

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Claudia Webbe MP has criticised Government proposals to proceed with plans to privatise Channel 4, calling them the "seedbed of fascism."

The MP for Leicester East has hit out against the Conservative Party's decision to privatise the broadcaster in a series of tweets today.

Ms Webbe wrote: "The government has just confirmed its intention to ‘privatise’ Channel 4. This is not freedom or independence - its the seedbed of fascism."

Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe. Picture date: Wednesday October 13, 2021.
Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe. Picture date: Wednesday October 13, 2021.

The Government has argued that Channel 4’s long-term future needs to be secured amid concerns for its survival in the streaming era.

A statement by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) said it had made the decision to allow the channel to “thrive in the face of a rapidly-changing media landscape” while a Government source said the move would “remove Channel 4’s straitjacket”.

Ms Webbe also tweeted: "Tory privatisation of Channel 4 is revenge for all the good journalism they did. Like Channel 4 Dispatches revealing the horrific scale of child poverty."

The former Labour MP for Leicester East who now sits as an independent after she was suspended from the party whip in September 2020, after being charged with harassment of a woman.

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Nadine Dorries. Picture date: Tuesday March 15, 2022.
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Nadine Dorries. Picture date: Tuesday March 15, 2022.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries added in a tweet that she wanted the broadcaster to remain a “cherished place in British life”, but felt that Government ownership was “holding Channel 4 back from competing against streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon”.

She said: “I will seek to reinvest the proceeds of the sale into levelling up the creative sector, putting money into independent production and creative skills in priority parts of the country – delivering a creative dividend for all.”

The Government source told the PA news agency: “C4 is a great business with a strong brand built around it being creative, innovative and distinctive but a change of ownership will remove its straitjacket, giving C4 the freedom to innovate and grow so it can flourish and thrive long into the future and support the whole of the UK creative industries.”

The Government has also argued that a sale could allow the channel, which has limited ability to borrow money or raise private sector capital to invest in new platforms and products and cannot own and sell its own content, to establish its own production house and generate its own intellectual property.