Jon Snow: I’m not opposed to privatisation – but Channel 4 is a very delicate setup

"Perish the thought that we ever live in an American-style operation," said the Channel 4 news anchor, who also told the Radio Times Festival he was passionate about the BBC

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Jon Snow has said that he’s not against the Government selling off Channel 4, but warned that it could upset a “very, very, very delicate setup”

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“I’m not myself opposed necessarily to privatisation or anything,” the Channel 4 news anchor told an audience at Radio Times Festival on Friday.

“If it works better than any other way, that’s the right thing to do. What I’m arguing here it it’s a very, very, very delicate setup. And if you move a bit of it about, it may break. Therefore it’s worth preserving.”

Snow’s comments come after a leaked official document revealed that the Government is evaluating Channel 4’s future and privatisation is among the options being considered for the publicly-owned, commercially-funded broadcaster.

After joking that he was “vigorously in favour” of privatisation – “Not least because I’m thinking about share options and the implications for my bank balance” – the veteran broadcaster went on to defend Channel 4 where he has worked as a news anchor since 1989.

“There is something very precious about the settlement that is Channel 4,” he said. “It’s a very successful television station, which generates a very great deal of money. All of which goes back into making programmes and particularly making the news, which is very, very expensive…

“And I think that if you change the formula, you might not generate enough money to be able to do that. They generate about £900 million a year. Every penny of which goes back and the thing costs the taxpayer nothing but the taxpayer owns it. It’s a trust, a publicly accountable trust that is regulated by a publicly accountable regulator. I think it is the envy of many, many broadcasting systems.

“Perish the thought that we ever live in an American-style operation because in the great words of my namesake, they genuinely know nothing. You can be in the middle of America and oblivious to anything going on anywhere in the world… It’s very dangerous. We must be informed and we must be informed well.

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Snow also defended rival broadcaster the BBC. “I am passionate about the BBC… I would go to the ramparts to defend the BBC. Even if I don’t have any great ambition to work for it.” 

Jon Snow was speaking at the Radio Times Festival which runs until 27th September. For tickets, see here