With ISBA’s argument that the two broadcasters would occupy about 70 percent of the TV advertising market, the prospect of an investigation by the competition authorities would be expected.
The odds that such a merger would win regulatory approval seemed high even before an attempt by French broadcasters to pursue a similar deal collapsed on Friday.
France’s TF1 and M6 have called off their merger plans designed to protect them from the rapid expansion of US deep-pocketed streamers after regulatory officials told them to offload the TF1 or M6 channel to address their competition concerns.
Regardless of whether Donelan decides to reverse privatization or not, Channel 4 is unlikely to escape sweeping changes in its strategy.
Promises by Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon to persuade ministers to give up their privatization efforts may now become promises to be kept.
Mahon had tried to appeal to the government’s leveling agenda by creating 600 new roles outside London and increasing the proportion of performances outside the capital from 35 to 50 percent.
The station’s offer to invest an additional £200million a year in UK shows over the next decade through a joint venture with a private lender had “downside risk”, according to official advice to the UK Government Investments government ( UKGI).
Donelan’s assessment of the business case could open a window for Channel 4 to explore further compromises with the government, including exploring different ownership models.
Either way, broadcasters outside of Channel 4 will be looking for a quick decision.
As privatization is an important part of the draft media law, the BBC and ITV will not want the Channel 4 debate to stop the introduction of other measures designed to protect UK TV from Netflix, such as giving broadcasters a prominent place. on streaming menus of smart TVs.
Donelan’s determination to reform the BBC may ultimately be enough to divert attention from the government’s drive to privatization for now.
She said Tuesday there were questions about whether the license fee was sustainable given the transformation of the industry powered by Netflix and Disney.
But as all Channel 4 bosses realize, a decision to park a privatization debate only starts the countdown for the decision to revisit the issue in the future.