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Bectu has branded Channel 4’s awarding of staff bonuses “a slap in the face” to out-of-work TV freelancers and the staff whose jobs are on the line at the broadcaster.

It emerged this week that senior C4 executives including chief executive Alex Mahon, chief content officer Ian Katz and chief operating officer Jonathan Allan received bonuses for 2023, though their total pay will be up to 40% lower than the previous year's record figures.

Mahon is expected to have earned up to £900,000, down from the previous year's £1.5m, while Katz will have been paid up to around £500,000, compared to 2022's £737,000.

The broadcaster is currently consulting on up to 250 redundancies as part of its Fast Forward strategy, with drama head Caroline Hollick, youth head Karl Warner and fact ent head Alf Lawrie already confirmed to depart.

It has also scaled back daytime commissioning as it weathers an uncertain ad market and is now prioritising shows with a ‘long tail’ online.

With a recent Bectu report suggesting that two-thirds of freelancers are out of work, Bectu head Philippa Childs said: “This will come as a slap in the face to both those at risk of redundancy and the many freelancers currently out of work.”

Childs has called for crisis talks between broadcasters, the industry and the government to halt the “exodus of diverse and talented crew” which she says is having a “significant knock-on effect on workers’ financial and mental wellbeing” and leaving many freelancers feeling isolated.

“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,” she said.

In a statement, Channel 4 responded: “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.”

The broadcaster will outline executive pay for 2023 in its annual report, which is due to be published in July.

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