British public broadcaster Channel 4 says it will lay off around 240 workers and sell its London-based headquarters as the television network works to reign in expenses as part of a broader restructuring of its business.
The layoffs will affect around one in five workers at the television network, which employs slightly more than 1,200 employees in the United Kingdom and certain other territories.
Additionally, Channel 4 affirmed its £90 million (around U.S. $114 million) headquarters in London will be put on the market, and the broadcaster will open a central London office that is smaller and shift more of its remaining workforce to work-from-home roles.
Channel 4 has been under mounting pressure to curb its operational spending as it shifts its core business away from television advertising revenue with an eye toward digital advertising and content licensing opportunities.
“With 600 roles based outside 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,” a spokesperson for Channel 4 said in a statement this week.
“As we shift our center of gravity from linear to digital, our proposals will focus cost reductions on legacy activity,” Alex Mahon, the CEO of Channel 4, said on Monday. ” 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.”
The job losses appear to backtrack on a pledge made a few years ago, in which officials at Channel 4 said they would hire more than 600 additional employees by 2025. With the closure of its London headquarters, Channel 4 said it would no longer need to fill those roles.
Now, Channel 4 says it will accelerate the closure of some of its non-core broadcast networks, including the music channel The Box, as part of a digital-focused plan called Fast Forward.
“Fast Forward is designed to get Channel 4 into the right shape for the 2030s and protect its long-term sustainability: focusing investment in distinctive, streaming-friendly British content and social media; growing diversified revenue streams; and reengineering the business to become leaner, simpler and nimbler, divesting from legacy operations to support digital priorities,” a spokesperson for the network affirmed.
They continued: “The Fast Forward strategy will build on this momentum and support Channel 4 into the 2030s, ensuring it reaches and inspires new generations of viewers, delivers its public service remit, and sustains its long-term future as a relevant and rebellious force in British creative and cultural life.”
“We are genuinely excited about the future,” McMahon said of the initiative. “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.”
Channel 4 was established in the early 1980s to serve as a competitor to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). While the BBC and Channel 4 are both considered publicly-owned broadcasters, the BBC is funded through a tax on British households that watch television, while Channel 4 is reliant on commercial advertising.