The UK government has announced plans to launch a consultation on whether Channel 4 should be privatised in order to safeguard its future.
Since its launch in 1982, the broadcaster has been commercially funded but publicly owned, with all profits being reinvested into programming.
The issue of whether to privatise Channel 4 has been on and off the table over the last two decades, but the current government has now given its strongest indication yet that a sale in the near future is a real possibility.
Announcing the consultation today, the DCMS said: "Moving Channel 4 into private ownership could allow it to access new capital, create strategic partnerships, and reach international markets only available through the private sector.
"Changes to the model may also allow Channel 4 to diversify its income streams, enable it to invest in new technology and produce new content and programming.
"This would better allow Channel 4 to compete and strengthen its role as a public service broadcaster and secure the long-term benefits it can bring to the creative industries and to audiences."
The current value of Channel 4 has proven difficult to estimate, although industry figures suggest that at the most a sale could raise £1 billion for the public purse.