A Channel 4 partnership with BBC Worldwide ‘makes sense’, the secretary of state for culture, media, and sport said today.
Andy Burnham said a public sector tie-up, rather than a merger with Five, should be the first option – but said other options “remain on the table”.
He said that while private media businesses were “waning”, the publicly-funded BBC should put a “supporting hand under others, rather than build itself ever bigger”.
“It makes sense to begin looking at public sector bodies – Channel Four and BBC Worldwide,” said Burnham, speaking at the Oxford Media Convention.
“Of course it is early days, and any successful partnership model needs to continue to meet the needs of the BBC as well as releasing value and resource to create a new model with Channel 4.”
He added that tje Channel 4 brand was “here to stay” and said “we should not start reading the obituaries” of it, Five, or ITV.
Earlier, Burnham had proposed an addition to Lord Reith’s founding BBC remit of “educate, inform, and entertain”.
“I know I am not the first secretary of state to suggest additions to Lord Reith’s founding trilogy,” he said.
“But, seriously, it is time to add a fourth – to put partnership in the BBC DNA – educate, inform, entertain and enable.”
While praising the BBC, Burnham stressed plurality was crucial in order to “provide a range of voices”, to “create competition”, and “sustain Britain’s reputation around the world”.
And, amid all the talk of public broadcasting’s future, Burnham found time to praise Saturday night prime-time television.
“X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing offered a timely reminder of TV’s vital social role – the ability to unite generations in shared moments that, in time, become reference points in British culture.”