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Channel 4 Bonuses Are “Slap In The Face” For Fired Staffers & Ailing Freelance Workforce, Bectu Says

“A slap in the face” was the verdict of broadcasting union Bectu to Channel 4 bosses’ decision to accept bonuses this year amidst a 250-staff layoff program.

Deadline revealed yesterday that the network’s CEO Alex Mahon, content boss Ian Katz and Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Allan would be taking their bonuses in 2024, although at reduced rates.

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Responding, Bectu Head Philippa Childs pointed to the optics of the bonuses being taken at a time when freelance community morale is at an all-time low. Channel 4’s Remuneration Committee would have rubberstamped the bonuses around the time the broadcaster began implementing a 250-staff layoff program, which is seeing commissioning teams shrunk back amidst tricky economic headwinds and a slowdown in commissioning.

“Hot on the heels of recent announcements of mass redundancies at the broadcaster, this will come as a slap in the face to both those at risk of redundancy and the many freelancers currently out of work,” said Childs. “Bectu recently laid bare the extent of the work drought in film and TV, and the significant knock-on effect on workers’ financial and mental wellbeing. We have written to UK broadcasters, industry and government regarding the crisis facing film and TV freelancers, urging them to work with us to halt the exodus of diverse and talented crew and tackle the structural challenges that leave workers feeling isolated, that damage their mental health and devastate their financial security.”

Bectu research recently found that around two-thirds of freelancers are out of work. “In the midst of a very difficult period for the UK’s film and TV workforce and industry at large, news of Channel 4 executives accepting large bonuses is disappointing to say the least,” added Childs.

Channel 4 staff including head honchos will take 50% bonuses this year and Mahon, Katz and Allan will see their pay, which hit record highs last year, drop by 30% to 40%, we revealed yesterday. Channel 4 told us that “the bonus was calculated from the network’s “annual targets, remit and business goals.” Senior bosses’ separate six-figure loyalty bonuses, which Deadline revealed had been indefinitely deferred last year amidst a revolt from producers, are still under discussion.

The 40-year-old broadcaster recently published a Fast Forward blueprint with plans to sell its London Horseferry Road premises and focus on three pillars: digital growth and transformation, diversifying new business and “reengineering the business for a digital-first world.” The network has also been keen to show it is still commissioning. In recent weeks it has revealed greenlights for high-profile documentaries including a landmark British Asian series presented by Oscar-nominee Riz Ahmed and a show about the Serpent serial killer.

A Channel 4 spokesman said yesterday: “Channel 4 is entirely commercially funded and makes sustainable financial decisions to support the delivery of its remit and boost the UK creative industries. It also has to attract and retain high-calibre employees in a competitive market.

“After careful and considered evaluation, Channel 4’s Remuneration Committee recommended that the Corporate Variable Pay Scheme be paid at half of the maximum opportunity for eligible employees. The award was calculated from Channel 4’s annual targets, remit and business goals.

“Channel 4’s annual report – published later this year – will show a 30 to 40% reduction in total remuneration awarded to Executive Members in 2023, compared to 2022. As usual, Channel 4 will share detailed information on executive pay in the annual report.”

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