Equity holds rally in Leeds to stop Channel 4 privatisation

Speakers include Shadow Culture Secretary Lucy Powell MP and Hollyoaks actress Dawn Hope

Yesterday (Saturday 21 May) we held a rally calling on the Government to stop the privatisation of Channel 4.

Starting with a demo, around 50 Equity members brought placards and chants straight to the doorstep of Channel 4’s national headquarters in Leeds at 6.15pm yesterday. This was followed by a rally at Leeds Corn Exchange, which featured speakers such as the Shadow Culture Secretary Lucy Powell and Hollyoaks actress Dawn Hope, as well as representatives from an independent production company based in the North of England and the campaign group We Own It.

The rally marks the next phase of the campaign to Save Channel 4 in which a broad coalition of people and organisations are now working together to stop the privatisation of the public service broadcaster –​ as indicated by the range of speakers at Equity's rally. Also taking place in Leeds from Saturday 21 – Monday 23 May is Equity’s Annual Representative Conference (ARC).

Read more about Equity’s campaign to Save Channel 4.

Lucy Powell MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said (via pre-recorded video): “Let’s work together and try and stop the sell off of Channel 4, because that is also going to speak to a much bigger agenda about how we want to support public service broadcasters here in the UK. Because it’s Channel 4 first, it’s the BBC next and it’s everything we value about public service broadcasting in this country further down the line too. So this is a really important battle for us to come together and win.”

Dawn Hope, Hollyoaks actress and Equity Councillor, said: “Let's not be silent – and the only way we can do that is to actually keep speaking up. They [the Government] want to silence our creativity, front and back of camera. And we are the ones who have got to say ‘thus far and no further’.”

Christian Hills, Creative Director of True North Productions, the biggest non-scripted independent production company in the North of England, said: “Much will be said about legally binding commitments for the new owners [of Channel 4], but expect a steady erosion of any licence conditions, especially since the plan is for Channel 4 to have a significant in-house production arm. At that point, smaller indies – maybe 200 across the UK – will see their prospects diminish, and the creative sector outside of London will shrink.”

The full list of speakers at Equity’s rally to save Channel 4:

  • Jackie Clune (compere), actress and Equity Vice-President
  • Dawn Hope, actress (currently appearing on Channel 4 in Hollyoaks as Pearl Anderson) and Equity Councillor
  • Gareth Forest, TUC Policy & Campaigns Officer in Yorkshire & the Humber
  • Lucy Powell MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Vice-President
  • Christian Hills, Creative Director of True North Productions
  • Matthew Topham, We Own It campaigner
  • Lynda Rooke, actress and Equity Vice-President