Channel 4 is to base 300 of its staff outside London and increase its Nations & Regions content spend to 50% as part of a plan called 4 All The UK.

The broadcaster said a new C4 National HQ will be established outside London alongside two new smaller creative hubs in the Nations & Regions in 2019, home to 300 Channel 4 jobs including key creative decision makers.

The broadcaster will keep its Horseferry Road HQ, but reduce its London footprint and make office space in Horseferry Road available to Nations & Regions production companies doing business in the capital.

Channel 4 billed it as the biggest change to the structure of the organisation in its 35-year history.

The move follows pressure from the Conservative Party, which made the relocation of C4 one of the commitments of its 2017 Election manifesto.

Channel 4 is to increase its Nations & Regions content spend from its current quota of 35% to a new voluntary target of 50% by 2023. This will result in a cumulative boost of over £250m in Channel 4’s Nations & Regions commissioning spend.

Channel 4’s Chief Executive Alex Mahon said a pitch process will be launched in April in which cities and regions across the UK can pitch to become the home of the new Channel 4 creative hubs – with the aim that a decision on the location of the hubs will be made in Q3 2018.

Channel 4 Executive Board member, Jonathan Allan will take on lead executive responsibility, working closely with Mahon, for delivering the 4 All the UK strategy – including leading the pitch process for the new creative hub locations.

C4 said commissioning editors overseeing significant budget and with responsibility for some of its biggest shows will be based across the three new creative hubs – alongside a variety of other creative and business functions. The largest of the creative hubs will be known as Channel 4’s National HQ – and will regularly host Channel 4 executive and Board meetings – alongside Horseferry Road as Channel 4’s London HQ.

This National HQ will be home to a new studio, with the potential to be a base for daily programmes, and a new digital production unit – creating short form digital content targeted at young audiences which reflects the diversity of UK culture and values.

Channel 4 News will also expand its footprint in the nations and regions opening new bureaux giving a boost to regional representation, aiming to become the first peak-time national news programme to co-anchor from both London and the Nations & Regions from 2020. In partnership with ITN, the programme will establish three new Channel 4 News bureaux with one becoming a major hub with a studio, digital and commissioning centre, tripling the number of jobs based in the Nations & Regions by 2020.

In total, it is expected that around 300 Channel 4 jobs will be based in the Nations & Regions.
C4 said the increased programming spend will support up to 3000 additional production jobs in the Nations & Regions economy.

Alex Mahon, Channel 4’s Chief Executive said: “As a public service broadcaster with diversity in its DNA, Channel 4 has a unique ability to reflect our society. This is a significant and exciting moment of change for Channel 4 as we evolve to ensure we are best suited to serve all of the UK.

“With this new strategy we will go even further to make sure that people right across the UK are represented on screen and in the make up of our own organisation – and it will also build on what we already do to support creative businesses, jobs and economies in the Nations & Regions.”

The 4 All the UK strategy has been fully approved by the Channel 4 Board.

DCMS Secretary of State Matt Hancock said: “We have long been committed to Channel 4 moving out of London. I’m delighted Channel 4 have decided, under the strong new leadership of Alex Mahon, to establish the new national HQ outside of London, with 300 jobs, including key creative decision makers, to be based in the regions, rising over time. I know that many parts of the UK will be excited to pitch to be the new home of C4. We want all parts of Britain to benefit from our amazing creative industries, and C4’s leadership with a new national HQ outside of London is an important part of building a Britain that works for everyone.”

Producers alliance Pact said it welcomed the announcement that Channel 4 will be increasing its spend outside of London to 50% by 2023. “Our members overwhelmingly see commissioning spend to be the most important way to achieve regional economic growth, build creative clusters and help serve audiences. The certainty of business is what allows companies to invest in talent, grow businesses and attract the talent needed to make programmes…Pact will be working with Alex Mahon and Ian Katz to ensure that there is a higher volume of returning series from the nations and regions over the coming years.”

Staff Reporter

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