UK broadcaster and former stalwart of the British film industry Channel 4 has embarked on the most radical shake-up in its 20 year history, announcing plans to slash 200 jobs.
The redundancies are in addition to the 50 job losses at Channel 4's FilmFour division, which was recently closed as a standalone division and folded back into the main channel's drama department. A further 48 posts were cut from Channel 4 and its commercial arm 4 Ventures in the autumn of 2001.
The redundancies are part of a major overhaul by new Channel 4 chief executive Mark Thompson, who is looking to reduce overheads and increase the main channel's programming budget.
The job cuts are expected to reduce overheads in 2003 by 33% or£36m on 2000 levels. Earlier this week, the channel announced a 7.5% increase in its programme budget for 2003 to£430m, the highest in its 20 year history.
Thomson addressed staff on Thursday saying that the 'difficult process' would help the channel 'turn a big corner and build a channel and an organisation that can really succeed.'
Under former chief executive Michael Jackson, Channel 4's staff count nearly doubled from 650 to 1,100 as a result of the launch of a series of new ventures, including the FilmFour production and distribution operation and the launch of the FilmFour channels.
However, a slowdown in the advertising market has meant less money coming into the channel. The growth of rival broadcaster Channel 5 and strong competition from the cash rich BBC has also put pressure Channel 4's ratings. Its programming has also been critically assailed in recent months - leading to a general perception that the broadcaster is on the slide.
As a result, Thompson has decided to focus most of his energies and budget on the main Channel 4 service - at the expense of operations such as FilmFour and entertainment service E4.
A number of key executives are to part company with C4 as a result of the overhaul. They include director of strategy and marketing David Brook and director of finance and business affairs Janet Walker.