Magazine article Marketing

C4 Must Beware of Blair and His Flexible Friends

Magazine article Marketing

C4 Must Beware of Blair and His Flexible Friends

Article excerpt

It can only be a matter of time before the privatisation of Channel 4 becomes a serious issue once again. The main evidence lies in the fact that Channel 4 has a letter from Tony Blair saying that he has no plans to privatise the channel.

So much has changed since May 1 that it would be illogical to think the policy on Channel 4 will stay unhindered for long, and after all, the letter was written when Tony Blair was Leader of the Opposition, so it would be completely unreasonable for anyone to take such a thing seriously.

This thought was prompted by a chance meeting with Virginia Bottomley, who is getting along nicely without her ministerial car and declaring herself true and constant to her political principles: Old Labour.

She fears the worst for Channel 4, which would be a bit of a shame given the trouble she went to to prevent privatisation first-time round. Of course, political memories can get hazy after the flow of red boxes suddenly dries up, but the word is that Channel 4's escape was a lot narrower than was realised.

Channel 4's chairman, Sir Michael Bishop, made a frontal attack on Michael Heseltine, but the great man decided the channel would be a splendid fence to sit on. The vote in Cabinet was 11 to two for privatisation, and the only thing that came between Michael Grade and his share options was the stubbornness of Virginia, who used to wear people' down until they went away.

It's remarkable how quickly the tradition of ministers sticking up for principles has disappeared, leaving the public confused about what it voted for and why. …

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