Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has described Channel 4 News as “edgy” and said the programme sometimes has not done itself “any favours” in terms of impartiality.
Appearing before a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee session about online safety and public service broadcasters, she was asked what she thought of the programme.
Ms Dorries said 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.
Apparently referring to eyewitness reports that former anchor Jon Snow shouted “F*** the Tories” while at Glastonbury Festival five years ago, 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.”
Ms Dorries was also questioned about the Government’s decision to sell off Channel 4.
The broadcaster has been publicly owned since its creation in 1982 by the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher, and is entirely funded by advertising.
Ms Dorries said she “can’t see a scenario” in which a privately owned Channel 4 would become partly or wholly subscription based.
She told the committee: “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 session also saw DCMS permanent secretary Sarah Healey defend her staff after Scottish National Party MP John Nicolson questioned why public appointments in the department were “so often a mess”.
She said: “I obviously don’t really agree with the premise of your question. We do the highest number of public body regulated appointments across Government. We do 41 bodies with public appointments that are regulated, a total of 435 roles to fill – that means we are doing around 90 on an annual basis.”
Mr Nicolson highlighted the disrupted search for the new chair of the Charity Commission and the “the ongoing saga of Ofcom” which he said had ended with “an elderly peer who doesn’t use social media, which seems extraordinary in 2022”.
Conservative peer Lord Grade, 79, who is a former television executive, was recently appointed to the broadcasting watchdog after a lengthy process that had to be re-run.
Ms Healey said: “Obviously there are some instances, particularly some high-profile appointments which have not gone as swiftly or efficiently as we would have liked over the last couple of years, but I don’t think that undermines the absolutely excellent job that my appointments team do of getting through 90-plus appointments every year, most of them without any issues whatsoever.”