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UK Set to Lift Channel 4 Public TV Rules After 10 Years

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(Bloomberg) -- UK state-owned network Channel Four Television Corp. could be freed from its “public service broadcasting” rights and obligations a decade after a planned privatization is completed, the Culture Secretary said.

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“We are putting a time frame in for ownership as a public service broadcaster -- I just wanted to confirm the number of years -- it’s ten years,” Nadine Dorries told lawmakers on the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee Thursday.

“The sale of Channel 4 is happening, it’s in the media bill which will be coming forward to Parliament very shortly,” she said. “There will be many options that many prospective buyers would like to put forward. But it will be a public service broadcaster, therefore it means it will be free to air.”

The UK’s PSBs includes the British Broadcasting Corporation, ITV Plc, Channel 4, Paramount Global-owned Channel 5, S4C and STV Group Plc. They’re given extra prominence in places like electronic programming guides in return for taking on responsibilities such as local news. The UK set out plans to overhaul its broadcasting laws last month.

The Culture Secretary was pressed on how a privatized Channel 4 could compete against the likes of streaming giant Netflix Inc., which has recently said it will introduce advertising and crack down on password-sharing after a loss in subscribers led to a large sell-off in its shares. She said she is one of the estimated 100 million who also shares her password with family members.

“I have Netflix but there are four other people who can use my Netflix account in different parts of the country,” she said. “Am I not supposed to do that?”

(Updates with additional quote from Culture Secretary in sixth paragraph)

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