Channel 4 News didn't do itself any favours, says Nadine Dorries

Media caption,
Nadine Dorries says which media outlets she appears on is her choice while being questioned about the sale of Channel 4,

Channel 4 News has sometimes not done itself "any favours" in terms of impartiality, Nadine Dorries has said.

The culture secretary - who is pushing for the network to be privatised - rejected claims she was seeking vengeance against it as "laughable".

But she told MPs she would not "justify a news organisation whose anchor went out to shout obscenities at Tories" - a reference to claims about Jon Snow.

Ms Dorries also told MPs she shared her Netflix account with others.

Speaking to the Commons culture committee, the minister praised the streaming service's "incredibly generous system".

"I mean my mum has access to my account. I have Netflix but there are four other people who can use my Netflix account in different parts of the country."

"Am I not supposed to do that?" she added with a laugh.

Netflix has previously said users sharing their passwords with others was "something you have to learn to live with".

However, following a fall in subscribers, the company has suggested it wants to crack down on the practice.

The culture secretary also defended her decision to privatise Channel 4, arguing it would prevent the network from being too reliant on revenues from advertising.

Pressed on why she had not recently appeared on the broadcaster's evening news show, she said she got on "really well" with Cathy Newman, one of the presenters, but that invitations to appear often came at "really short notice".

She said the programme was "edgy", but added: "I'm not going to justify a news programme whose new anchor went out shouting obscenities about the Conservative Party.

"So they didn't do themselves any favours sometimes on the news programme and I think that is probably as much as I want to say about that."

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Channel 4 stars including Derry Girls' Saoirse-Monica Jackson has spoken out against privatisation

In 2017, Conservative MPs attacked the programme's presenter Jon Snow, after a claim he shouted obscenities about Conservatives - although Mr Snow said he did not have any recollection of the incident.

But Ms Dorries, said it was "laughable" when asked if selling Channel 4 was "vengeance" for its news coverage.

Channel 4 News editor Esme Wren said the network's output was "internationally-renowned for the depth and quality of its coverage ranging".

"Since the start of 2022, Channel 4 News has seen the biggest increase in audience share across all the public service broadcasting national main news programmes and is up by 43% among younger viewers aged 16-34 year-on-year."

Channel 4 has objected to the government's privatisation plans, saying it was "disappointing" that ministers had made their decision despite "significant public interest concerns".

Ms Dorries insisted the move would allow Channel 4 to raise investment and that it was "a great time to sell".

Chief executive Alex Mahon said privatisation would "make a negative impact on the creative industries across the UK".

During the committee hearing, Ms Dorries also told MPs a review of how the BBC is funded would start before Parliament's summer recess at the end of July.

Media caption,
Damian Green asks if the BBC funding review is a "sham” as Nadine Dorries has "already come to a very firm conclusion".

The minister told MPs she was looking for an independent chair to lead the review and would be "completely hands-off".

Asked whether she personally still wanted to abolish the licence fee, Ms Dorries replied: "Yes, the licence fee is an unfair way of funding the BBC."

Conservative MP Damian Green asked the minister if, given she had made up her mind, the consultation was "a sham".

Ms Dorries insisted it was not, adding that it was "time for a modern, fair way of funding the BBC - what that is, I don't have an opinion".