The proposed privatization of U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 could become a reality by the spring of 2023 as the government has decided to go ahead with the process. The asking price for bidders could be in the range of £1 billion ($1.3 billion).

“Channel 4 rightly holds a cherished place in British life and I want that to remain the case. I have come to the conclusion that government ownership is holding Channel 4 back from competing against streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon,” tweeted Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries.

“A change of ownership will give Channel 4 the tools and freedom to flourish and thrive as a public service broadcaster long into the future. I will set out the future plan for Channel 4 in a White Paper in due course,” Dorries added.

“I will seek to reinvest the proceeds of the sale into levelling up the creative sector, putting money into independent production and creative skills in priority parts of the country – delivering a creative dividend for all,” Dorries said.

The privatization was proposed last year and has gone through an industry consultation process.

“With over 60,000 submissions to the government’s public consultation, it is disappointing that today’s announcement has been made without formally recognizing the significant public interest concerns which have been raised,” Channel 4 said in a statement provided to Variety. “Channel 4 has engaged in good faith with the government throughout the consultation process, demonstrating how it can continue to commission much-loved programs from the independent sector across the U.K. that represent and celebrate every aspect of British life as well as increase its contribution to society, while maintaining ownership by the public.”

“Recently, Channel 4 presented DCMS [Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport] with a real alternative to privatization that would safeguard its future financial stability, allowing it to do significantly more for the British public, the creative industries and the economy, particularly outside London. This is particularly important given that the organization is only two years into a significant commitment to drive up its impact in the U.K.’s Nations and Regions,” the statement added.

“Channel 4 remains legally committed to its unique public-service remit. The focus for the organization will be on how we can ensure we deliver the remit to both our viewers and the British creative economy across the whole of the U.K. The proposal to privatise Channel 4 will require a lengthy legislative process and political debate. We will of course continue to engage with DCMS, 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,” the statement concluded.

Channel 4 was set up in 1982 and is funded by advertising. It is one of the leading supporters of independent production companies in the U.K. and was set up with a remit to champion unheard voices; to innovate and take bold creative risks; to inspire change; and to stand up for diversity across the U.K.

The privatization move has been vociferously opposed by several segments of the U.K. media industry including Equity, a union of more than 47,000 performers and creative practitioners. Equity ran a campaign against the move on the grounds that a privatized Channel 4 would focus on delivering profits, rather than diverse and distinctive content for audiences; will remove Channel 4’s legislative responsibilities and remit to nurture new talent, to reflect cultural diversity, to show alternative viewpoints and to invest in U.K. film; and that the loss of Channel 4’s remit could affect the employment opportunities available to performers and other creative workers from underrepresented backgrounds.

Following the privatization decision, Oscar and BAFTA-winning British filmmaker Asif Kapadia tweeted: “#Channel4 @Film4 supported UK cinema for years, personally they financed or screened my short films: The Sheep Thief, Hotdog, my London Olympic film The Odyssey. financed my 1st feature The Warrior (winner 2 BAFTAs), Far North, put £ into Oscar winning AMY, DIEGO MARADONA, LAIKA.”

“C4 supported me. Boris Johnson & his Tory government are selling off C4 because they hate what C4 do. Tories are attacking democracy, culture, art & anyone who dares hold them to account like @Channel4News. They are out to destroy this country. We have to stand up & fight back,” Kapadia added.

ITN, Discovery, Sky, Paramount, Amazon and Netflix are among the platforms that could bid for Channel 4.