Nadine Dorries took aim at Channel 4 News today, saying they do not “do themselves any favours”.
The culture secretary described the news programme as “edgy” when she was quizzed on the government’s proposal to privatise the broadcaster.
Dorries told MPs she “gets on really well” with presenter Cathy Newman and had been asked on by her a number of times in the past two weeks.
But, in an apparent reference to reports that former anchor Jon Snow shouted “F*** the Tories” at Glastonbury Festival, she added: “I have been on Channel 4 News a number of times. It is edgy.
“I am not going to justify a news programme whose anchor went out shouting obscenities about the Conservative Party.
“So they didn’t do themselves any favours sometimes on the news programme and I think that is probably as much as I want to say about that.”
The broadcaster has been publicly-owned since its creation in 1982 by Margaret Thatcher’s government and is entirely funded by advertising.
Dorries said she “can’t see a scenario” in which a privately-owned Channel 4 would become partly or wholly subscription-based.
Giving evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee on Thursday, Dorries added: “As a public service broadcaster that is not on the table, that is just not on the cards at all. I can’t see a scenario in which that would happen.”
The plans to privatise Channel 4 have come in for severe criticism, including from Conservative MPs.
Tory backbencher Sir Peter Bottomley, the longest-serving MP in the Commons, said: “Channel 4 is in the best state it’s been creatively and financially for decades.”
He suggested that ministers may have been offended by some of its news coverage – such as replacing Boris Johnson with a melting ice sculpture in a climate change debate – and added that the “government could do best by leaving it alone”.
Damian Green, another former Tory minister, expressed “profound scepticism” about the government’s privatisation plans and said the media industry was united in “saying Channel 4 isn’t broke and doesn’t need fixing in this way”.
Channel 4 news editor Esme Wren said: “Channel 4 News is internationally-renowned for the depth and quality of its coverage ranging from the climate crisis to Oscar-nominated doc For Sama to the war in Ukraine.
“Since the start of 2022, C4N has seen the biggest increase in audience share across all the PSB national main news programmes and is up by 43% among younger viewers aged 16-34 year-on-year.
“C4N confirmed its new presenter line-up last month following the departure of Jon Snow, with Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Matt Frei, Cathy Newman and Jackie Long anchoring the programme. We are also recruiting a new Leeds-based presenter.”