THE Government is pressing ahead with the privatisation of Channel 4, the broadcaster has confirmed.

Alex Mahon, the broadcaster’s CEO, has written to staff informing them the Government has confirmed its plans to sell off the publicly-owned by commercially funded channel, in an email seen by the BBC.

The station released a statement online on Monday evening confirming the news, saying it was "disappointing" the Government intended to plow ahead with the privatisation. 

The statement said the announcement had been made "without formally recognising the significant public interest concerns which have been raised".

It added: "The proposal to privatise Channel 4 will require a lengthy legislative process and political debate.

"We will of course continue to engage with [the Department for Culture, Media and Sport], Government and Parliament, and do everything we can to ensure that Channel 4 continues to play its unique part in Britain’s creative ecology and national life."

Mahon said that ministers had rejected his proposals to keep the firm in public hands.

The BBC reports the sale will “likely” be completed before the next general election, expected in 2024.

Government sources have told The Times its funding model – created by Margaret Thatcher – has become a “straight jacket” which prevented it from being able to compete with streaming giants such as Netflix.

They claim new ownership will allow the channel, created in 1982, to invest more in original programming and have suggested the proceeds of the sale could be used in a “creative dividend”.

A UK Government spokesperson said: "Following an extensive consultation on the future ownership of Channel 4, the Culture Secretary has come to a decision and is now consulting with Cabinet colleagues.

“We want Channel 4 to flourish and thrive in the face of a rapidly-changing media landscape. It holds a cherished place in our broadcasting landscape and we want that to remain the case.

"We set out our preferred option for a change of ownership to give the corporation new freedoms to innovate and grow while continuing to make an important economic, social and cultural contribution to the UK. We will announce further details shortly."