33 jobs at risk as Channel 4 slashes news output

Channel 4 has decided to axe More4 News and the Channel 4 News at Noon in order to slash costs and safeguard its flagship evening news programme.

Press Gazette understands that 33 jobs within C4/More4 News could be affected by today’s news.

ITN is hoping that only around 20 redundancies will have to be made. It is seeking alternative employment for those affected and a 30-day consultation with ITN’s Channel 4 News staff and unions is already underway.

In addition, ITN is launching a company-wide voluntary redundancy scheme.

More4 news is a nightly half-hour programme currently presented by Alex Thomson, covering for Kylie Morris who is on maternity leave, which has won plaudits for its international coverage. News at Noon is presented by Krishnan Guru-Murthy.

Both services are provided by ITN and their closures are likely to lead to staff cutbacks at the news provider.

Channel 4 said it plans to “concentrate resources around the peak bulletin, while increasing the range and quality of news content available digitally”.

It revealed today that it also investing extra resources in news online to create improved political news services.

A spokesman said: “In order to afford this investment at a time when the advertising downturn is forcing Channel 4 to cut its programme budget, we need to find efficiencies elsewhere in our news budget and have decided to cut More4 news and News at Noon, although we do intend to offer a short summary bulletin at lunchtime.

“We have tried to minimise the impact of these savings on viewers while preserving the quality and integrity of our widely acclaimed evening programme in the face of severe financial pressures.

“These changes come against a backdrop of a severe economic slowdown. We are endeavouring to maximise efficiencies whilst maintaining quality and have had to make the tough but necessary decision to prioritise and protect our award-winning news service.

“We have enjoyed a successful relationship with ITN for over a quarter of a century and we look forward to continuing to work together to produce a distinctive, top-quality news programme.”

News that Channel 4 was considering such drastic cutbacks was first reported in May.

At the time Channel 4 head of news Dorothy Byrne said she believed the channel would keep its flagship programme come what may.

She told a conference: “Channel 4 News loses money, that’s what it does. But what does Channel 4 News bring to Channel 4?

“It’s the soul and the centre of what Channel 4 is about. So as long as Channel 4 exists, there at the heart of it will be Channel 4 News and we will find a way whatever happens of making very high quality news.”

A spokesman for ITN said: “We are immensely proud of the high quality programming produced for Channel 4. Whilst we are very disappointed that the financial challenges facing the channel have left them with no option but to reduce budgets, we’ve worked in partnership with Channel 4 to identify savings which will not jeopardise the quality and integrity of the flagship Channel 4 News bulletin. We look forward to continuing to provide the programme for many years to come.”

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