'This is not understanding your brief at all.'
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has been ridiculed online for yet again getting it horribly wrong when discussing the privatisation of Channel 4.
Appearing on LBC, where Dorries was making the case for privatising Channel 4, she pointed to the success of Channel 5’s privatisation, not once, but twice. Channel 5 has never been owned by the government.
Dorries said: “Do you know who has done that really well since they were privatised a small number of years ago, I think it was three years ago, five years ago maybe? Channel 5. If you look at the amount of investment Channel 5 puts into the regions and how well Channel 5 has done since it was privatised, I think that’s a model. I call Channel 5 a levelling-up broadcaster.”
Pink News CEO Benjamin Cohen was among those who pointed out to Dorries that Channel 5 was never publicly owned.
Cohen tweeted: “I love how Nadine Dorries justifies privatising Channel 4 by claiming that Channel 5 was privatised 3 to 5 years ago. Channel 5 launched in 1997 as a private business as a result of a franchise auction but I guess you couldn’t expect the Culture Secretary to know this.”
The minister responded: “Yes, I misspoke – it was 2014 when Viacom bought C5 – a public service broadcaster – resulting in increased private investment, not a few years ago! However, the substance of my point remains exactly the same. But, you nit pick away if that’s what makes you really happy.”
Mr Cohen replied: “You stated ‘privatised’ twice. It was never publicly owned. This is not misspeaking. This is not understanding your brief at all. Can I ask would you like C4 to be US-owned like C5 then?”
It’s not the first time that Dorries has made incorrect claims when discussing Channel 4’s privatisation. Speaking during a select committee hearing in November 2021, Dorries claimed Channel 4 is “in receipt of public money” when discussing the future of the channel, despite the fact it doesn’t.
Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward
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