In an internal email to staff, Alex Mahon, Channel 4 chief executive, said her priority was to “look after all of you and the wonderful Channel 4 spirit”.
She said: “In our engagement with government during its extended period of reflection, we have proposed a vision for the next 40 years which we are confident would allow us to build on the successes of the first 40.
“That vision was rooted in continued public ownership, and was built upon the huge amount of public value this model has delivered to date and the opportunity to deliver so much more in the future.
“But ultimately the ownership of C4 is for government to propose and Parliament to decide.
“Our job is to deliver what Parliament tasks us to do, and if or when that changes, then I am confident that this incredible organisation will respond with the relentless energy it has always displayed in pursuit of its goals and the remit.
“My priority now, along with the rest of the exec team, is to look after all of you and the wonderful Channel 4 spirit, and make sure we all carry on doing what we do best – making incredible shows for our audiences, creating opportunities for young people and supporting the creative industry across the UK.”
She said there would “now be a long process ahead”, but that Channel 4 would work with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the broadcaster’s supporters to “make the arguments to ensure that Channel 4 can continue to deliver its remit”.
There are already allegations that party politics played a role in the decision. Chris Elmore, Labour’s shadow culture minister, claimed it was “driven by Tory dogma”.