Saturday 17 November 2018

Channel 4 confirms Leeds as new national headquarters

New creative hubs will be based in Bristol and Glasgow.

Channel 4 (Philip Toscano/PA)
Channel 4 (Philip Toscano/PA)

By Laura Harding, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Leeds has been chosen as the location for Channel 4’s new national headquarters, while Bristol and Glasgow will host new creative hubs.

The move will be part of the biggest change to the structure of the channel in its 35-year history, even though it will keep its base on Horseferry Road in London.

Leeds fended off competition from Greater Manchester and Birmingham to host the new base, while Cardiff was also in contention to host a creative hub.

Channel 4 announced its intention to move staff out of London to three new bases in the nations and regions after the Government said the broadcaster will remain publicly owned, but faced being relocated.

The channel warned at the time that forcing it to move outside of London “would be highly damaging”.

Following the announcement of the new locations, Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said: “The Government made clear that Channel 4 needed to do more to increase its presence in the regions to help better reflect and provide for UK audiences outside of London.

“Congratulations to Leeds, Bristol and Glasgow, and I look forward to Channel 4 taking further steps to increase its impact around the UK in the years ahead.”

Some 300 Channel 4 jobs, including key creative decision-makers with significant spending power, will be based in the hubs outside of the capital.

It has also been decided that a major new Channel 4 News hub will be established in Leeds as the new building will include a studio with the capability to regularly co-anchor the programme.

Alex Mahon, chief executive of Channel 4, said: “We undertook a rigorous process over the last seven months and the high calibre of all the pitches meant those were incredibly difficult decisions to make.

“However, I know that Leeds, Bristol and Glasgow will best deliver our objectives to grow the production sector across the UK, build the pipeline of creative talent outside London and support our increased investment in programming produced across the nations and regions.

“Leeds put forward a compelling and ambitious strategy for how they could work alongside Channel 4 to further build the strong independent production sector in the city and develop new diverse talent from across the region.

“Locating our national HQ in Leeds enables us to capitalise on a strong and fast-growing independent production sector in cities across the North of England – and also has the potential to unlock growth in the North East and East of the country, an area without a major presence from other national broadcasters.

“Establishing a creative hub in Bristol gives Channel 4 the opportunity to build on thriving production communities in the city and to partner with Cardiff and harness the power of the wider creative industry across the South West and Wales. The city also put forward exciting social mobility proposals to develop talent across the wider region.

“Glasgow has a well-established production sector across multiple genres, and locating a creative hub in the city will give Channel 4 the opportunity to tap into the rich cultural diversity of Scotland and also allow us to exploit the city’s strong connectivity with Belfast and the Northern Ireland production sector.”

The new national HQ has been described as “a broad-based centre”, which will include commissioning, production and digital content.

The creative hubs will begin with a focus on programme commissioning, but will welcome a broader talent base later on.

The first-round pitch process was launched in April, with more than 30 submissions entered.

The second stage process involved Channel 4 visiting each of the 13 shortlisted cities and regions for a presentation and discussion before they were whittled down to the final six.

Cllr Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “Leeds offers a home in the heart of the UK and the north, with strong links to screen, and a constantly evolving creative sector with huge ambitions to be even greater in the next few years and beyond.

“Together with Bradford we have one of the youngest and fastest growing labour markets in the UK, and the news of Channel 4 choosing Leeds will have a very positive impact on these generations, and is a real triumph for the city and wider region.

“With no other major broadcaster in the North East this news is very welcome, and will allow us to shine a light and really cement the world-class work in film and TV that is taking place in Yorkshire and the wider north.”

Press Association

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