TV takeover talk
ITV and Lord Grade lined up as Channel 4 suitors
ITV and Lord Grade, the media veteran, are said to be among those interested in acquiring Channel 4 as the government prepares to privatise the channel.
Bankers from Credit Suisse and Robey Warshaw, the boutique firm that counts the former chancellor George Osborne as a partner, are advising ITV on potential options for the state-owned broadcaster, according to The Sunday Times.
ITV, which is run by Dame Carolyn McCall, is expected to be one of the frontrunners if the government fires the starting gun on a sale of Channel 4.
Lord Grade – who also chaired the BBC and ITV – is thought to have an interest in pursuing Channel 4 through his company Miroma.
He sits on a panel advising ministers on the future of public service broadcasting, and earlier this month urged a House of Lords committee to shake up the channel’s ownership saying “the status quo is not an option.”
He said: “The time to change the nature of Channel 4 is now, before it falls over, before it succumbs to the inevitable decline” and warned that the network behind programmes such as Great British Bake Off is “in a straitjacket of regulation and statutes that completely prevent it from taking advantage of what it has achieved so far.”
Channel 4 is state-owned but funded by adverts. Ministers began consulting on its future last month and have appointed JP Morgan to provide advice. Once this is completed the industry expects the Government to pull the trigger on a sale.
Last year Channel 4 generated revenues of £934m with a pre-tax profit of £74m, and is valued at approximately £500m.
Its chief executive Alex Mahon is against privatisation and has warned that shifting to a for-profit model would harm its ability to support independent producers.