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The government has decided to push ahead with plans to privatise Channel 4

   News / 05 Apr 2022

Published: 05 April 2022
Location: London, UK

By Suzanne Evans, Director, Political Insight


The government has decided to push ahead with plans to privatise Channel 4, the culture secretary has confirmed. Nadine Dorries said she had concluded "that government ownership is holding Channel 4 back from competing against streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon".  She added: "A change of ownership will give Channel 4 the tools and freedom to flourish and thrive as a public service broadcaster long into the future," and promised a white paper on plans for the broadcaster’s future. A spokesperson for Channel 4 said it was "disappointed" with the decision but would "continue to engage" with the government on the process to "ensure that Channel 4 continues to play its unique part in Britain's creative ecology and national life". Dorothy Byrne, the former head of news and current events at Channel 4 told the BBC that selling it off made no sense. "I think the fight is now on to save Channel 4 News and to save all those important programmes in any sell off," she said.
 
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss yesterday urged France and Germany to agree to tough new sanctions against Moscow following news of fresh Russian atrocities in Ukraine. Only “being tough” with Vladimir Putin would end the war, she said, and called for a “new wave” of punishments. US President Joe Biden meanwhile, has branded Putin a “war criminal” and said he should face trial for the atrocities in Bucha. Yesterday, The Telegraph witnessed mass graves filled with bodies so badly decomposed residents were unable to identify them, and bullet-riddled cars that were carrying families fleeing Bucha. Germany has ruled out an immediate ban on Russian gas imports.
 
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has ordered the Royal Mint to create its own so-called NFTs. He said the 1,100-year-old Mint, which produces Britain’s coins and sells commemorative versions to mark special events, would sell the tokens as an “emblem of the forward-looking approach the UK is determined to take”. However, his statement has come in for criticism. Simon French, an economist at Panmure Gordon, suggested the announcement was “three days late”, intended as an April fool, while independent economist Julian Jessopwrote: “What on earth is the point of this?” Tulip Siddiq, Labour's shadow economic secretary, called the move a "poorly judged gimmick" as it came days after the energy price cap hike and rise in National Insurance. NFTs use the technology behind cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin to confer ownership of digital items such as artwork or virtual clothing. Sales of them have exploded in the last two years, hitting £19bn in 2021. However, the sector has also been beset by scams and cyber-attacks, and been criticised for the environmental impact of cryptocurrencies, which rely on energy-intensive computers.
 
Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey yesterday told the Stop Scamsconference that cryptocurrency is the "new front line for scammers" and "an opportunity for the downright criminal." “You only have to ask the question: What do people committing ransom attacks usually demand payment in?” he said. “The answer is crypto.”
 
However, the Government has moved closer to bringing cryptocurrenciesinto the mainstream as it unveiled plans that would allow so-called stablecoinsto be used as payment in the UK. Stablecoins, a form of crypto pegged to normal currencies, will be regulated in the same way as normal money when they are used for payments, the Treasury said yesterday. Unlike highly volatile cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, which can lose big chunks of their value within minutes, stablecoins only move in value if the traditional currency they are linked to changes. This means that a pound-linked stablecoin will go up in price against the dollar when sterling gains on the international market.
 
Airline chiefs are blaming the Government for widespread disruption to Easter travel. Passengers face cancelled flights and massive queues at airport security amid a severe shortage of staff to cope with surging passenger numbers now Covid restrictions have been lifted. However, sources pointed the finger at government officials over lengthy delays to the counterterrorism checks required for new pilots, cabin and ground crew meant to ease the burden.
 
Klarna, Europe’s biggest financial technology company, has backed British efforts to diverge from the EU’s financial regulations, saying the UK has an opportunity to rip up red tape post-Brexit. The Telegraph reports that CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski said Britain now has an opportunity to write “outcome-based regulation” and ignore some of the “bad practices” of Brussels lawmaking. Stockholm-based Klarna, which was valued at $45.6bn (£35bn) last year, is considering the UK among a number of other potential destinations for a bumper flotation, the newspaper says.
 
Sports people, celebrities and social media influencers who are “likely to be of strong appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture,” are to be banned from advertising gambling products from 1st October this year. The Committee for Advertising Practice is introducing the new rules following a consultation. They are intended to curb gambling’s appeal to under-18s and help safeguard young people and vulnerable audiences.
 
Sky News has learnt that the new owners of supermarket chain Wm Morrisons’ have announced plans to sell a substantial chunk of Morrisons' manufacturing and distribution facilities across the UK. The property portfolio is estimated to be worth £500 million.
 
63 people in the UK, mostly young children, have become infected with salmonella in an outbreak linked to Kinder Surprise eggs. Chocolate firm Ferrero is recalling some batches of the eggs as a precaution while investigations continue into the link, the Food Standards Agency said. More cases have reportedly been recorded in Europe, including Ireland, France, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands. The eggs are made in Belgium.
 
Ted Baker has officially put itself up for sale sign after a string of unsolicited takeover bids. Two offers from private equity company Sycamore Partners Management and another bid from an unnamed suitor have already been rejected on the basis they “significantly undervalued” the high street fashion brand. A statement said: “The board has decided to conduct an orderly process to establish whether there is a bidder prepared to offer a value that the board considers attractive relative to the standalone prospects of Ted Baker as a listed company.” Shares jumped more than 14% on the news.
 
Retailer The Works was forced to close five of its stores yesterday following a cyber-attack which delayed the resupply of stock and online order deliveries to customers. The cut-price seller of books, crafts and toys, which operates 526 stores across the UK, said that the security breach of its computer systems has not given hackers access to any customer payment data.
 
Ardagh Metal Packaging, a supplier to Coca-Cola and Diageo, has submitted plans for a new £150 million beverage can manufacturing plant. The Newtownabbey facility - one of Northern Ireland's largest ever industrial investments - is set to create 200 jobs.
 
Twitter shares surged 26% yesterday when it emerged that Tesla owner Elon Musk has built a 9.2% stake in the social media company, making him the biggest holder. Based on Twitter's closing share price on Friday, Musk's stake is worth $2.89bn. Last month, Musk questioned Twitter's adherence to free speech principles. He said: "Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy. What should be done?" He later asked: "Is a new platform needed?"


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