IPA firmly supports ongoing public ownership of Channel 4

Comment by IPA Director General Paul Bainsfair

The IPA has today issued a statement in support of the ongoing public ownership of Channel 4, stating that it sees no upside but significant downsides to privatisation.

As a key member of the Advertising Association, the IPA has also contributed to, and approved, their comprehensive response to this consultation on behalf of the entire advertising industry, and has supplied a complementary submission on behalf of the advertising agency community to further reinforce its position.

Says Paul Bainsfair, Director General, IPA:

"The IPA represents over 300 agency brands including those responsible for handling the lion’s share of UK TV ad spend. It is also incorporated by Royal Charter, under which one of the main terms of our chartered status is our duty “to advance the theory and practice of advertising, media and marketing communications in all aspects for the benefit of the public."

And so, with this front of mind, there are a number of reasons why we firmly support the ongoing public ownership of Channel 4, including:

  • its unique access to audiences

The Channel 4 portfolio of channels delivers unique reach of light and young viewers versus the rest of the linear TV landscape. This is invaluable to many British companies selling products and services, and their advertising agencies seeking to maximise reach and build brands.

  • its innovative approach drives the marketplace

Channel 4 is a driver of continued and often first-to-market innovation, which makes the commercial TV landscape more competitive and more attractive to advertisers. This is evidenced by the success of its market-leading Broadcaster Video On Demand platform, All4.

As the TV market rebounds post-Covid, its world-class leadership, directed by its unique remit, is set to deliver and sustain market-beating growth amid the rise in internet-enabled viewing.

  • its commitment to diversity and inclusion that delivers for British business

Channel 4 provides content and reach to advertisers to support and champion under-represented audiences and is unique in its continued commitment to do so.

  • the risks that privatisation could bring regarding competition and media plurality

As this public asset would appeal only to commercial TV rivals, a less competitive TV marketplace would not be in the interests of advertisers and could drive up the unit price of TV advertising. This could in turn accelerate the migration of advertiser budgets away from television and into online platforms.

Ultimately, Channel 4 is a success. Its purpose-driven programming is good for society and it’s good for culture, and crucially, to the IPA, our members and their advertiser clients, it’s good for business.  We see no upside but significant downside to privatisation.

Last updated 10 November 2021