Channel 4 has confirmed that Leeds will be the location of its new National HQ and Bristol and Glasgow will be the locations of its two new Creative Hubs.

The new National HQ and Creative Hubs will be home to 300 Channel 4 jobs when fully established, including key creative decision makers – responsible for commissioning Channel 4 content and programmes from producers across the UK.

The decision to select Leeds as the new National HQ and Bristol and Glasgow as new Creative Hubs followed an extensive pitch process. Over 30 pitches from cities and regions across the UK were received, which were shortlisted to 13 – with three cities taken forward for advanced negotiations for the National HQ or Creative Hub option (Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester), and three further cities for the Creative Hubs (Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow).
Detailed discussions with all six cities have been happening over the last three months, led by Channel 4’s Chief Commercial Officer Jonathan Allan, alongside Chief Executive Alex Mahon. Reed Smith were external advisors to the Channel 4 process. Following these discussions, a recommendation was made by Alex Mahon and the Channel 4 Executive team, which was today approved by the Channel 4 Board.

Channel 4 said the Leeds City Region put forward a “comprehensive, compelling and ambitious strategy to partner with Channel 4 and the wider sector to support growth in the production and creative industries, and to nurture new talent from diverse backgrounds – in the region and across the UK.”

Channel 4 said that locating the National HQ in Leeds will enable Channel 4 to  unlock the “potential for growth in the underserved East and North-East of England” with Leeds “extremely well-positioned to be a base for collaboration with producers and creative talent across other cities including Bradford, Hull, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.”  Leeds’ established digital industry and digital talent pool were factors as Channel 4’s new Digital Creative Unit will be established in the National HQ to “grow the Corporation’s impact across digital and social media platforms.”

Leeds also demonstrated a “passionate commitment to work with Channel 4 to bring diverse new talent into the industry.”

The Channel 4 Executive team and Channel 4 Board believed that Bristol and Glasgow best delivered against the vision and objectives set out for the new Creative Hubs.

Bristol will be home to one of the Creative Hubs and won its pitch because of its already thriving production sector, world-renowned factual producers and strengths in areas such as animation and digital production. Bristol was also chosen due to its proximity to another UK production him, Cardiff.

Channel 4 says Glasgow was chosen as the other Creative Hub due to its well-established independent production sector and “strong connection” with Belfast and the production sector in Northern Ireland.

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, following the decision for Channel 4 to be located there in a new building including a studio with the capability to regularly co-anchor the programme.

Alex Mahon, Channel 4 Chief Executive said: “Diversity and inclusion have always been at the heart of Channel 4’s mission and the launch of our 4 All the UK plan is the biggest and most exciting change in the organisation’s 36-year history – as we open up Channel 4 to people from across the UK and supercharge the impact we have in all parts of the country.

“We will be spending up to £250m more on programming produced in the Nations and Regions and to catalyse that spend I’m delighted to confirm that we will be establishing a new National HQ in Leeds and new Creative Hubs in Bristol and Glasgow.

“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 quality of pitches from all the cities involved in the final stage of the process was exceptionally high and I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all those involved for the effort and passion they put in – particularly Andy Street for Birmingham, Huw Thomas in Cardiff, and Sir Richard Leese in Greater Manchester. I hope we can continue discussions with all of them about how we can develop new partnerships with each of their cities – particularly since we will be spending up to £250m more in the Nations and Regions over the next five years and want to work with producers and talent in all of these areas.”

Charles Gurassa, Channel 4 Chair said: “I’m delighted that the Channel 4 Board has today unanimously agreed that Channel 4 will establish its new National HQ in Leeds and two new Creative Hubs in Bristol and Glasgow.

“We were very impressed by the high quality of all the pitches delivered by the shortlisted cities and I’d like to extend my thanks to all the many people involved. The Board reviewed and was satisfied that the selection process was carried out in a thorough and rigorous manner with the appropriate level of external assurance.
“We are very much looking forward to working with our new regional partners and more broadly with the production communities across the UK to further enhance our creative contribution nationwide.”

Further detailed work will now continue to identify locations and property within the National HQ and Creative Hub locations. Staff will begin to move to the new locations in H2 2019.

Jon Creamer

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