Readers' Letters: Channel 4 targeted for speaking truth to power

Culture Minister Nadine Dorries, who has announced she is pushing ahead with privatising Channel 4, personifies the current UK Government’s ignorance, incompetence and greed.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries wants to sell off Channel 4
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries wants to sell off Channel 4

After all, this is the minister who five months ago didn’t have a clue about how Channel 4 was funded, falsely claiming it received public money. It makes its money from commercial operations, supports an independent TV production industry, invests in investigative and foreign journalism, and ploughs all profits back into the channel to make new programming.

A private owner would instead reward shareholders and the public would lose an independent voice that dares to hold the government to account.

During the consultation period, 90 per cent of submissions said privatising the channel was a bad idea. Voices across the media industry, including Sir David Attenborough, have condemned the plan as an attack on British public service broadcasting.

There are few broadcasters in these islands willing to speak truth to power. Channel 4 is one of them and is why Boris wants to silence them.

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Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

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Analysis: Tory ministers should listen to industry over Channel 4 privatisation ...

Cultural vandals

Culture Minister Nadine Dorries has decided, along with other cultural vandals in her government, to sell off Channel 4. In a recent interview it was clear Ms Dorries did not know how Channel 4 was funded, but a lack of knowledge goes with the territory of this government.

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The reality, should she wish to find out more about it, is that C4 is funded by private enterprise. Its programmes are made by independent production companies but it is owned by the public. A better example of Thatcherism would be hard to find. But Ms Dorries wouldn’t know this as for some bizarre reason she thinks it should be competing with Netflix so will be sold off.

The real truth is her beleaguered and corrupt government are, once again, terrified of any media outlet that has some semblance of independence and having gagged the BBC, they are now starting on Channel 4.

I will wait with bated breath to find out who will be the eventual buyers but I have a hunch it may go to the same sort of people who did so well out of PPE contracts.

Unlike the excellent news coverage of Channel 4, this story writes itself.

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D Mitchell, Edinburgh

Action stations

I suspect that the real reason Nadine Dorries proposes to sell off Channel 4 is that she is desperate to show that she is actually doing something – anything.

Michael Grey, Edinburgh

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Nothing changes

Two readers' letters (6 April) criticise the stock Russian "it wisnae us" response to accusations of atrocities in Ukraine.

I was reminded that in Spring 1940, Soviet army units took almost 5,000 Polish officers and intellectuals from a nearby POW camp into the Katyn Forest near Smolensk and shot them all, burying the bodies in mass graves.

Two years later German troops, now at war with Russia, discovered these mass grave and accused Stalin of the murders. Stalin’s response was to say that the accusation was "a monstrous invention by the fascist scoundrels in Germany”.

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Almost 50 years later, in 1990, the Soviet Union under Gorbachev, finally admitted that Soviet units had committed the 1940 atrocity.

Plus ça change!

D Mason, Penicuik, Midlothian

Putin’s war

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Some aspects of Putin’s War seem to receive little comment or analysis.

What on earth have the West’s ambassadors, military attachés and other diplomats in Moscow been monitoring, and how have they been advising our governments, since Putin’s regime from 20 years ago became, quite clearly to many outsiders, increasingly authoritarian, undemocratic, paranoid, aggressive and ultimately totalitarian?

Why is there a reluctance to condemn unequivocally the wholehearted support given to Putin from Patriarch Kirill and apparently most elements of the Russian Orthodox Church, based on falsifying 1,000 years of Ukrainian/Russian history and reviving Stalinist fascism and Orwellian Newspeak?

Their extremist Russian nationalism (some might use the four-letter German word with which Putin falsely insults Ukraine) is obviously stronger than their moral compass, basic humanity or Christian witness (if any).

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Finally, why on earth was someone as unsuitable as Valery Gergiev, long-term friend since the 1990s of the ex-KGB officer Putin and public supporter of his aggressions, not only appointed Honorary Patron of the Edinburgh Festival back in 2011 but retained that position even after Putin’s earlier invasions? What an insult too to his predecessors – Yehudi Menuhin and Charles Mackerras.

John Birkett, St Andrews, Fife

Debate night

Education in Scotland is in a very parlous state, of that there is no doubt.

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Some might say the blame lies squarely in the SNP court – which seems to think that erudite is a type of quick-setting adhesive. Trigger warnings in schools and no-platforming in our universities and wokeism generally are symptoms of something which those who fear for democracy must find very disturbing. Freedom of speech, dialogue and debate are notions which our universities appear to have defenestrated. Dialogue promotes learning, growth, understanding, healing and renewal. And it is our values and attitudes that drive how we speak and listen.

What to do about this situation? Way back on 23 July 2019, Cameron Wyllie, a retired headteacher with 37 years’ experience, published a very stimulating piece in The Scotsman: ‘‘Every Scots child should get the chance to learn how to win an argument’’. I suggest that every school in Scotland should have a debating society and every pupil should be given the tools and encouraged to take part. There should be inter-school debating contests – the winning team and their school receiving appropriate recognition. The annual competition could be financed by our most prestigious legal firms or financial companies.

Doug Clark, Currie, Midlothian

Goodie bags

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I must take issue with Frances Scott (Letters, 6 April) who extolls the benevolence of the Scottish Government with all its “freebies”. She goes on to say that the Scottish Government’s “limited” help is constrained by the UK Government.

A friend of mine was discussing the political scene with a tradesman, who he had employed. In the course of the discussion, it came as no surprise to my friend that the said tradesman supported the SNP.

"So you’ll be voting for independence?” said my friend. “You’re joking,” was the reply. He went on to reel off the almost identical list to Frances Scott’s from which he benefitted, adding: “Am I going to bite off the hand that feeds us these goodies?”

J Lindsay Walls, Edinburgh

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Calorie count

I understand that the government has passed legislation compelling restaurants in England to specify the calorie content of every dish on their menus.

This is a step too far in the nanny state. Dining out is one of my favourite pastimes, and like many others, is an occasion for indulgence, not calorie counting.

If this stupid law comes into force here, I will scan menus to identify the dish with the highest calorie count, and that is what I will order.

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David Hollingdale, Edinburgh

Country life

The problem with letters from those such as George Shanks (6 April) is that, living in the Central Belt, they are unaware of the way that a parliament in Edinburgh short changes those living in rural Scotland.

For example, Mark Ruskell of the Scottish Green Party has stated: “We are investing £5 billion in improving our railways.” It is a major concern for those in Durness, Braemar, Campbelltown or Kirkcudbright if your taxes are splashed on such a project yet there are no plans for Holyrood to provide any rail service. Or the remark by Calum Steele of the Scottish Police Federation that “the retrenchment into more urban cenres has a detrimental impact on policing of remote and rural areas”.

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Surely the local elections should be an opportunity for Central Belt Scots to right these wrongs and vote for the implementation of the Wightman Bill to devolve powers out of Edinburgh to rural Scotland – or else demand that Westminster step in to set up a separate Assembly for rural Scotland!

Ian Moir, Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway

Fracking’s back

It is surely sensible that the UK Government has asked the British Geological Survey to investigate "whether there have been new developments in the science of hydraulic fracturing – in particular, whether there are new techniques in use which could reduce the risk and magnitude of seismic events".

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The BGS is the main authority on this issue and their conclusions will be hard to argue against. Interestingly its remit includes looking at sites outwith Lancashire, so perhaps they will dust down the exhaustive report by the Scottish Government’s Expert Scientific Panel on Unconventional Oil and Gas in 2014. Its recommendation was positive, as long as all safety and environmental risks were addressed

Given the current issues around energy security the topic surely deserves an objective, unemotional examination.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

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