The government plans to privatize Britain’s free public TV network Channel 4, arguing it cannot otherwise keep up with streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon.
The company was launched in 1982 and its mission is to support the UK independent production sector and produce a unique and diverse range of programmes.
The public but commercially funded broadcaster derives 90% of its revenue from advertising.
But Culture Minister Nadine Dorries tweeted on Monday evening that government ownership “prevents Channel 4 from competing with streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon”.
Dorries said a change in ownership “will give Channel 4 the tools and the freedom to thrive and thrive as a public service broadcaster well into the future”.
The plans will be presented to parliament “in due course”, she added.
A statement from Channel 4 said “it is disappointing that today’s announcement has been made without formally acknowledging the significant public interest concerns which have been raised” by the potential sale, which could earn up to to £1 billion ($1.3 billion, €1.2 billion).
Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon said in an internal email to staff that it was for the “government to propose and parliament to decide” on the broadcaster’s future.
Labour’s shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that the decision “doesn’t make any sense. I don’t find a lot of people in favor of it.
“I’m afraid…rather than competing with some of the big US streaming giants, it’s more likely to be bought by one of them,” she added.