WHAT 4? How will the privatisation of Channel 4 affect religious diversity?

The “What 4?” Sandford St Martin media salon went live on 6 September 2021 – the same day Channel 4 launched its new Leeds headquarters and a week before the deadline for public submissions to the government’s inquiry on the future ownership of Channel 4.

Our panellists considered what, for a broadcaster with multiculturalism and diversity at its core, privatisation would mean when it comes to public service content and particularly for the quantity and quality of religious and ethical programming on offer? And how would the change impact the UK’s creative sector?

Our panel:

Chair:  Torin Douglas, former BBC media correspondent and Trustee of the Sandford St Martin Trust. 

Aaqil Ahmed:  Aaqil Ahmed is an award-winning Television executive having enjoyed a 25-year career at the BBC and Channel 4, during which time he became the only person to be Head of Religion and Ethics at both broadcasters as well as Head of multicultural programming at Channel 4. Today, Aaqil is a Professor of media at the University of Bolton; a public speaker and writer on diversity, media, leadership and religion as well as an advisor to a number of organisations on communication and strategy.

Maggie Brown: Maggie Brown was the Media Editor of The Independent, one of its founder journalists in 1986, and has written extensively on the media for the Guardian and the Observer. She is the author of two histories of Channel 4: ‘A Licence to be Different: The Story of Channel 4’, covering its first 25 years and more recently ‘Channel 4: A History from Big Brother to the Great British Bake Off’ of which Andrew Billen at The Times wrote “As enthralling as the best Channel 4 drama and as searching as the best of its documentaries, this [book] is the definitive account of a unique British institution’s difficult, dramatic second act.”

Marcus Ryder MBE: Marcus Ryder is the Head of External Consultancies at the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity. He has spent over 25 years working in the media across the world including the UK, China and Malaysia; and eight years as a senior executive at the BBC, winning numerous industry awards – from Baftas to Royal Television Society Awards and Foreign Press Association Awards. Most recently he was appointed Chair of RADA and currently works in China as an executive producer for Caixin Global, China’s leading independent financial publication.

To watch a video of the discussion click on the image at the top of this screen or on this sentence.

To read the Trust’s submissions to either the Department of Culture Media and Sport’s consultation on the ownership of Channel 4, or the House of Lord’s parallel call for evidence, visit our Public Inquiry Submissions page.

Please note that the opinions expressed by Media Salon participants are their own and do not reflect the opinions of the Sandford St Martin Trust or any of our partners.