The government has given its blessing to a partnership between Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide, but has said it will not be a “forced marriage”.
In the final Digital Britain report, published this afternoon, communications minister Stephen Carter said the government would help get the joint venture off the ground – but it was up to both parties to agree terms that suited them.
A deal between C4 and the BBC could not be reached in time for today’s report, but C4 chief executive Andy Duncan said in a statement that the broadcaster had made “considerable progress” in its negotiations.
C4 chairman Luke Johnson added: “We welcome the Government’s explicit rejection of a partial privatisation of Channel 4 through a forced commercial merger and the encouragement Digital Britain gives to our discussions about partnership with BBC Worldwide.
“This remains our preferred means of securing more sustainable funding to support our public service delivery and we look forward to confirming with BBC Worldwide in the near future the proposed terms of our partnership.”
Carter told journalists today: “This is not a forced marriage. It the board of the BBC and the board of Channel 4 want it, the government will facilitate it.”