EXCLUSIVE: On Monday, Channel 4 will detail its biggest round of layoffs in 15 years.
The British broadcaster is expected to tell its 1,197-strong workforce how it intends to cull around 200 roles, with content teams expected to learn their fate.
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Channel 4 is making the cuts – the deepest since the 2008 global financial meltdown – in response to a floundering ad market that shows little sign of improving.
Speculation has been rife about how Channel 4’s commissioners will be impacted by the layoffs and commissioning is expected to be one of the hardest hit areas.
Channel 4 has been seen as having a larger commissioning team than rivals ITV and Channel 5. John McVay, who runs producer trade body Pact, recently told us his “members have often complained that Channel 4 has too many commissioners.”
Channel 4 declined to comment on plans for next week.
Home to Gogglebox and The Great British Bake Off, Channel 4 had 429 “creative” employees in 2022 — an 11% increase from 386 the previous year.
Several sources told Deadline that the company has considered merging departments, and there has been chatter about the shape that this could take. Channel 4 insiders firmly downplayed this prospect.
One person said Channel 4 had begun meetings with heads of department ahead of Monday and described a sense of foreboding that has settled over Horseferry Road.
Channel 4 initially responded to a drop in ad revenue by passing pain on to producers, significantly curtailing commissioning last year and asking suppliers to finance productions.
The strategy enraged the production community, particularly as it coincided with Channel 4 bosses pocketing record pay packets for their work in 2022.
As the crisis has deepened and Channel 4 has entered what CEO Alex Mahon described as “market shock territory,” the broadcaster has been forced to consider more drastic measures.
As well as redundancies, which Mahon said will ensure Channel 4 is the “right shape and the right size for the digital world,” the company has indicated it could dip into its £75M ($96M) credit facility. It has previously been reluctant to touch this emergency cash.
Producers have responded more positively as Mahon’s measures have become more extreme. Sources have said that the moves are evidence that Channel 4 is finally getting a handle on the situation and may be able to soon return to some semblance of commissioning normality.
Channel 4 revenues were down 2% to £1.14B last year, with a surplus of £20M, but 2023 looks set to be a much tougher 12 months and the company is expected to post a deficit.
When the layoffs were first revealed earlier this month, Channel 4 said “we need to continue to divest from our linear channels business and simplify our operations to become a leaner organisation.”
“Whilst organisational change is never without personal impact, it is a necessary response to allow us to stand out and succeed in a world of global entertainment conglomerates and social media giants, so we can inspire new generations of viewers and ensure Channel 4 remains a relevant and rebellious force in British creative and cultural life for the long term,” it said at the time.
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