Leeds confirmed as Channel 4’s new National HQ with Bristol and Glasgow serving as Creative Hubs
The decision to restructure Channel 4 distribution key decision makers throughout the UK is expected to boost the channel’s Nations & Regions spend by GBP250 million.
As part of the broadcaster’s 4 All the UK strategy, 30 cities and regions pitched to become Channel 4’s National HQ or one of its two Creative Hubs. Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester were shortlisted for the new HQ while Bristol, Cardiff and Glasgow competed to become Creative Hubs.
35% to 50% of its main channel UK commissions will go to these hubs, creating content spend worth up to GBP250 million. 300 Channel 4 jobs will relocate, and an expected 3000 production jobs in the Nations and Regions economy are expected to be supported.
Alex Mahon, Channel 4 Chief Executive explained that “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”.
The channel also identified Leed’s’ thriving digital industry and strong digital talent pool as a factor in the decision. Channel 4’s new Digital Creative Unit will be based at the HQ and should grow the Corporation’s impact across digital and social media platforms. Following discussions between Channel 4 and ITN, it has also been decided that a major new Channel 4 News hub will be established in Leeds.
Bristol was chosen as a Creative Hub because of its thriving television production sector. Grant Mansfield, CEO and Founder of Plimsoll Productions noted that “Channel 4’s decision will super charge Bristol’s already expanding creative sector and help support the city’s commitment to improve inclusivity in the sector. Bristol is simply a great place for 4 to be - my own company, Plimsoll, is now the biggest indie outside London, making shows for clients across the world, and this couldn’t have happened if we’d been based in any other City”.
The Bristol hub is also hoped to work closely in partnership with Cardiff, and connect with independents based in the South West of England, South Wales, the West of England, Birmingham and the Midlands. Moreover, Mahon notes that "Bristol put forward exciting proposals to establish new social mobility initiatives to work with diverse communities across the city and bring through new talent into the industry."
Glasgow, meanwhile already has an incredibly well-established and vibrant independent production sector. Establishing a new Creative Hub in the city will bring Channel 4 commissioners even closer to key production partners in the Glasgow area and help develop the production and creative sector across Scotland. Additionally, Channel 4 highlighted the opportunities available to develop deeper links with the Northern Irish production sector due to an existing strong connection with Belfast.
Channel 4 aims to begin the move to its new locations in the second half of 2019.
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