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Channel 4 plans to move out of London HQ and make 200 staff redundant

Channel 4 plans to move out of its London HQ and make hundreds of staff redundant.

The broadcaster has outlined, under its five-year digital-first strategy, that the Horseferry Road building would be closed and a new office space found in the centre of the city.

The move would happen in “the next few years” and Channel 4’s annual reports said the building was valued at £90 million in 2022 and £98 million in 2021.

It had previously committed to 600 roles being moved outside of London by the end of 2025.

On Monday, Channel 4 revealed the Fast Forward strategy, which also includes axing the small linear channels such as music video station The Box and others, the broadcaster said.

Under the plans, headcount will be similar to 2021 levels by reducing current roles by 18% – by making around 200 staff redundant and axing around 40 unfilled roles – and Channel 4 says 70% of proposed role closures would be from legacy operations staffing.

Across 2022, more than 500 staff joined the broadcaster, taking the total number of full-time employees to just under 1,200. These were not new roles created.

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Chief executive Alex Mahon said Channel 4 was shifting to a digital-first future (Yui Mok/PA)

Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon said: “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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Channel 4’s chief content officer Ian Katz said the youth and digital department would be restructured (Kacper Pilzys/Wales Screen Summit/PA)

Last year, Ms Mahon and other top Channel 4 bosses declined a pay rise and deferred their bonuses.

As part of efforts to reduce costs, a small number of programmes – such as reality show SAS: Who Dares Wins and talk show Steph’s Packed Lunch – have been cancelled.

Channel 4’s commissioning team would also be reorganised to drive more streaming content and there will be more focus on drama, high-end documentaries, comedy and reality, under the plans.

A message to suppliers from Channel 4’s chief content officer Ian Katz also said that a new entertainment and reality department would be responsible for The Last Leg, Married At First Sight and other shows, and documentaries and factual entertainment would be combined to look after programmes from 24 Hours In Police Custody to Gogglebox.

The note also read: “In drama, an increasingly important area for us, we will bring together our TV drama commissioning with film commissioning to encourage talent to work across our platforms.

“With significantly less planned origination for E4 as we focus on streaming, we will restructure our youth and digital department, with digital commissioning now reporting directly to me. Commissions for E4 will go through relevant genres.”

The Fast Forward strategy aims to increase digital revenue to 30% in 2024 and 50% by 2030.

Digital revenues accounted for 27% of total revenues last year and non-advertising revenues, which include partnerships and film revenues, have risen to make up 10% of the total income.