MORE than 40 UK production firms have warned the UK Government that their proposed privatisation of Channel 4 could put them out of business. 

The 44 companies, which are behind shows like Derry Girls and Say Yes to the Dress, out a full-page ad in the Daily Telegraph today to coincide with the Tory conference. The choice of the right-wing broadsheet newspaper is likely to be an attempt to reach senior Tories.

“Privatising Channel 4 would be the opposite of levelling up,” the ad sayd, referring to the phrase used by Boris Johnson’s government to describe efforts to rebalance the UK economy away from London.

“It would cost jobs, reduce investment, and place companies at risk in the nations and regions,” the ad continues. “From production companies who should know.”

READ MORE: Channel 4 privatisation 'not in the public interest', Scottish Government says

Firms that have co-signed the ad include Hat Trick, the maker of the hit comedy Derry Girls, and True North, the indie behind shows such as Say Yes to the Dress: Lancashire.

“A privatised Channel 4 would be a disaster for all small to medium-sized production companies,” said Jannine Waddell, the managing director of Waddell Media, the producer of series including Britain’s Most Expensive Houses.

“No matter what the government says, the programming remit would change and that would hurt all of us. Would a commercially focused owner really get behind something like the Paralympics? We are Channel 4’s biggest supplier in Northern Ireland, and the impact here would be massive.”

In June it was announced that the UK Government is to review the ownership model and remit of the Channel 4, potentially leading to it being privatised as early as next year. The broadcaster is currently publicly owned but funded through advertising revenue.

But the proposal has been controversial. The Scottish Government "strongly supports" keeping Channel 4 public and claims selling it off would not be in the public interest. They said the change would "weaken its ability to deliver programmes in the public interest".

READ MORE: Stuart Cosgrove: What next for Channel 4 as Conservatives plot their revenge?

Scotland's Culture Secretary Angus Robertson met with Alex Mahon, the chief executive of Channel 4, in August. Robertson, a former foreign and diplomatic correspondent for the BBC World Service, said: "It is clear to me that if the channel is sold to the private sector, Scotland will lose the strong momentum and valuable partnerships that it has built with our creative sector.

Last month, industry leaders put their names to “4 The People”, an open letter which argued that “it would be short-sighted to undermine this valuable vehicle for commercial creativity”. And earlier in the year Broadcast, a trade title for the TV industry, launched its own campaign against privatisation, “Not 4 Sale”.