Channel 4 has announced plans to cut 200 roles, around 18% of its current headcount, and to move out of its Horseferry Road HQ in the next few years.
The news comes as part of the broadcaster’s announced five-year strategy to “reshape the organisation and accelerate its transformation into an agile, genuinely digital-first public service streamer by 2030.”
Channel 4 says the new overall strategy, “Fast Forward”, will “ensure Channel 4 embraces the generational shift that is taking place in TV viewing, to elevate its impact across the UK and stand out in a world of global entertainment conglomerates and social media giants.”
Channel 4 says that to “stay competitive and invest in digital priorities” it will reduce its operational costs, “particularly out of legacy activities.”
Headcount will be reduced by 18% – around 200 redundancies and the closure of approximately 40 unfilled roles. It says around 70% of roles closed would be out of “legacy operations.”
The broadcaster also plans to move out of its Horseferry Road London base “in the next few years.” Plans for 600 roles based outside of London by the end of 2025 means a lower headcount in London overall, and with a “shift to flexible working, Channel 4 will find a new fit-for-purpose office space in central London.”
It is also proposing to close small linear channels “that no longer deliver revenues or public value at scale”, including the Box channels in 2024 and “others at the right time.”
The Fast Forward strategy will also include “accelerating the move to a digital-first commissioning strategy” with a “significant shift” in investment to streaming-friendly genres like drama, high-end documentaries, comedy and reality while targeting younger viewers on platforms including YouTube
The proposals also include a simplification of the commissioning team “to make it simpler for suppliers and more focused on content that drives streaming.”
There will be a “ruthless focus on cut-through” with “fewer, stronger new titles that generate more scale and impact.”
There will be an aim to double social views through 4Studio and an increase of the amount of content on YouTube and a transformation of Channel 4’s streaming platform.
Channel 4 will invest in intellectual property ownership “including the potential to own shows within the framework being proposed in the Media Bill” as well as “doubling” the number of members of Channel 4+, “building a double-digit million ecommerce business by 2030 and leveraging FAST channels.
Alex Mahon, CEO, said: “Channel 4 was designed to be ahead of the curve and has never stood still. The rate of change in our market is only speeding up. Our new strategy will accelerate our digital transformation – building on 2020’s Future4 strategy and our founding public service principles – so Channel 4 remains a trusted, disruptive and distinctive brand into the 2030s, offering brilliant shows that people love and that matter.
“We are genuinely excited about the future. Channel 4 means something to British people – we are trusted, we are a beacon for quality, we stand out for fresh and exciting ideas that matter and will be even more important in a crowded landscape of global content.
“While getting ourselves into the right shape for the future is without doubt the right action to take, it does involve making difficult decisions. I am very sad that some of our excellent colleagues will lose their jobs because of the changes ahead. But the reality of the rapid downshift in the UK economy and advertising market demand that we must change structurally. As we shift our centre of gravity from linear to digital our proposals will focus cost reductions on legacy activity. In preparing for a new digital-first future, I hope we can make Channel 4 simpler – for staff and our suppliers – and create a more efficient, inclusive and high performing organisation.”
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