Channel 4’s future is being debated by ministers in parallel to preparations for the renegotiation of the BBC Charter.
It has been suggested that the Channel 4 building on Horseferry Road in the heart of Westminster should be sold and the proceeds returned to the exchequer, Government sources told the Sunday Telegraph.
The non-profit organisation would then move, potentially to Birmingham, to help boost the media industry outside the capital, which is a key element of Channel 4’s public service remit.
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According to a valuation exercise carried out at the end of last year and disclosed in the recent Channel 4 annual report, the freehold for their building would fetch £85 million on the open market.
It is understood that no decisions have been made and that the proposals are one of several options under discussion as the Government gears up for a major overhaul of public service broadcasters.
Channel 4 could also move to outer London or to another major city such as Manchester, the hub of George Osborne’s “Northern Powerhouse”, where large parts of the BBC and ITV are now based.
John Whittingdale, the Culture Secretary, is also considering whether to privatise Channel 4, Westminster sources said. The idea of an IPO or trade sale was last put forward by Conservative ministers under the coalition last year, but blocked by Vince Cable, the then-business secretary. Privatisation is being resisted by Channel 4, which argues its non-profit status allows it to take more creative risks that drive growth in the UK production industry.