Channel 4 tells staff a round of major job cuts is looming | Channel 4

Channel 4’s chief executive has confirmed to its 1,200 staff that a round of major job cuts is looming, as the broadcaster seeks to hasten its shift to streaming amid the worst TV advertising downturn in 15 years.

Alex Mahon told the workforce in an internal email on Monday morning that the broadcaster needed to “accelerate” plans to become a “genuinely digital-first public service broadcaster” after the worst slump in traditional TV advertising since the financial crisis in 2008.

“Given all the market change and complexity that we need to adapt to, there will be an impact on jobs at Channel 4,” wrote Mahon, the day after the Guardian revealed the broadcaster was planning its biggest job cuts in more than 15 years.

“What we are doing now is accelerating our existing plans to weather the sharp and protracted advertising slowdown that has hit the whole industry. We have been working carefully to minimise the impact on individuals.”

Mahon has referred to the advertising slump in 2023 as a “market shock”, while the ITV chief executive, Carolyn McCall, has said the free-to-air broadcasting industry is facing the steepest downturn since 2008.

Mahon said Channel 4 would unveil its strategic plans for the broadcaster’s future from 2025 until the end of the decade at the end of this month.

In response to the 2008 crisis, Channel 4 cut almost a quarter of staff, although at that time the broadcaster employed only 874 full-time employees.

The cuts are understood to be focused mostly on London-based staff, given Channel 4 has a commitment to raise its number of employees in the nations and regions from 500 to 600 by 2025.

About a quarter of Channel 4’s £1.14bn total revenues come from digital advertising on its streaming service.

“Getting our organisation into the right shape and the right size for the digital world is a process we have been engaged in for some time,” said Mahon. “The market is shifting fast, and, as we have always done, Channel 4 has to move fast to adapt and imagine our future for a world that will continue to change.”

The broadcaster’s programming commissioning and operations teams look likely to suffer the worst job cuts.

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According to the latest annual report for 2022, Channel 4 employed 1,197 full-time equivalent employees – 261 in the commercial department, 463 in operations, 429 in creative roles and 44 at its 4Talent arm. Staff numbers have continued to grow since the report’s publication, which covered a period when the TV ad market was still vibrant.

In November, Mahon told the Commons culture committee that the state of the TV ad market was so bad it was in “shock territory”.

She added that the broadcaster expected to make losses in each of the next two years, after three years of surpluses.

Channel 4 is also considering a request to tap a £75m credit facility in meetings with officials from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Treasury in the coming months, although it does have £253m of cash in reserve.


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