U.K. Broadcaster Channel 4 Confirms 200 Layoffs, Reveals Plans for Becoming ‘Digital-First Public Service Streamer by 2030’

Rexa Vella

U.K. Broadcaster Channel 4 Confirms 200 Layoffs, Reveals Plans for Becoming ‘Digital-First Public Service Streamer by 2030’

U.K. public service broadcaster Channel 4 has confirmed the 200 layoffs that were being planned earlier this month.

The broadcaster is proposing to reduce headcount by 18% – around 200 redundancies – and the closure of some 40 unfilled roles. The layoffs are amid a continuous decline in TV advertising. The cost cutting also includes moving out of Channel 4’s central London base on Horseferry Road “in the next few years.” “With 600 roles based outside of London by the end of 2025, lower headcount in London overall, and a shift to flexible working, Channel 4 will find a new fit-for-purpose office space in central London,” the broadcaster said. In addition, Channel 4 is proposing to close small linear channels that “no longer deliver revenues or public value at scale.”

Channel 4 has also unveiled a five-year strategy called Fast Forward to “reshape the organization and accelerate its transformation into an agile, genuinely digital-first public service streamer by 2030,” the broadcaster said. Channel 4’s digital revenues accounted for 27% of total revenues in 2023 and it aims to increase this to 30% in 2024 and pass 50% by 2030. 

The Fast Forward strategy includes a shift in investment to the types of programming that drive streaming growth like drama, high-end documentaries, comedy and reality, while targeting younger viewers on platforms including YouTube. This programming will have a “ruthless focus on cut-through” with fewer, stronger new titles that generate more scale and impact, the broadcaster said, adding that the aim is to doubling the number of members of Channel 4+, its ad-free tier, by 2030. There are also aims to double social views through digital content and social arm 4Studio; increasing the amount of content on YouTube; and building new distribution partnerships to enhance visibility of Channel 4 video.

Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon 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 organization.”

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