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Channel 4 has deferred the £400,000 combined loyalty bonus for its top three executives following a tough second-quarter for the advertising market.

Chief executive Alex Mahon, chief content officer Ian Katz and chief operating officer Jonathan Allan were initially excluded from a loyalty payment that C4 introduced last June to offer all staff an extra sum if they stuck out the following year and hit performance targets.

The trio were then included in the planned payout, with each of them set to receive a 25% loyalty payment, but the broadcaster has now confirmed that these will be deferred by a year, with the same provisos on performance applied.

When details emerged of the company-wide payments last week, Bectu said it demonstrated "no apparent acknowledgement of how vital freelancers’ skills and expertise are to Channel 4", particularly at a time when many freelancers are reporting to be struggling with a dearth of opportunities.

C4 said in a statement: "Whilst the remuneration committee agreed a retention scheme for the executive directors alongside the rest of the organisation last year, the executive directors have already made the decision to defer their payment and earlier this year declined a salary rise as part of a wider response to a very difficult ad-market in Q2, which is affecting all commercial broadcasters.

"Channel 4 cares deeply about the Indie community and our wider supply chain of freelancers. They are the beating heart of our business.

"While we recognise the actions we are asking of some are causing some short-term pain, the plan we have in place underscores our ongoing commitment to our financial sustainability and our continued support of the UK’s independent production sector.”

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