New Channel 4 base ‘must be within three hours of the capital’
Region should be station’s home
CHANNEL 4 has laid out guidelines for cities hoping to host the broadcaster’s new national headquarters or one of two new creative hubs.
The channel plans to move 300 of its 800 staff out of the capital and will open three new sites in the nations and regions. Leeds, Sheffield, York and Hull are among the cities bidding to host them.
It will also increase spending on productions in the nations and regions from 35 per cent to 50 per cent of main-channel commissions by 2023, boosting spending outside of London by more than £250m. The broadcaster, which is publicly owned but commercially funded, will not sell its London headquarters but will locate decision-makers and commissioners at a new base.
Jonathan Allan, commercial chief of the channel, told a briefing that the host city for the national HQ should have a working population of 200,000 and a travel time of up to three hours from London, adding the winning city should also have a high level of physical and digital creativity.
The two cities that will serve as creative hubs should have a working population of 75,000 and a travel time to London of up to four hours, he added.
The city should also have proximity to a well-developed independent television or digital production community. Areas looking to apply must submit paperwork by May 11 before Channel 4 draws up a shortlist by the end of May. The decisions on the three locations will be announced in October.
Alex Mahon, chief executive of Channel 4, said it is a “quite fundamental part of our role” to offer apprenticeships and opportunities to those who might not otherwise get them. She said: “I hope that by having us there we provide a bit of inspiration, that you don’t always have to be in London to have these opportunities.”
She said that as space is made available at the current London headquarters in Horseferry Road, it will be made available as a dropin for independent production companies from the nations and regions.
THE BATTLE to become the new home of Channel 4 is already well under way but the publication of new guidelines for choosing the winning location should give considerable hope for those behind the various Yorkshire bids.
Channel 4 bosses have now put forward the bidding rules to find its new national headquarters and two regional ‘creative hubs’ ahead of a shortlist being drawn up in May and final decisions being made in October.
Those in the running for the main headquarters must be within three hours of London and have effective creative industries already up and running, while the hubs can be within four hours of the capital and close to a well-developed independent television or digital production community.
Most promisingly, given previous claims from West Midlands mayor Andy Street that Birmingham will “get the nod for Channel 4”, the station’s commercial chief Jonathan Allen has pledged officials will be “completely open-minded about where we go”.
The case for Yorkshire is considerable, particularly given current media regional investment is largely focused on the western side of the UK in places like Cardiff, Bristol and Manchester. Leeds, Sheffield and Hull are among the local frontrunners, with the former’s bid also promising roles for York and Bradford in hosting the broadcaster should it be successful.
Yorkshire’s bids tick the boxes of what Channel 4 is after and offer an important opportunity to properly represent the millions of people living on the eastern side of the country. Station bosses must now tune in to the region’s potential.
JONATHAN ALLAN: Said the host city for the HQ should have a working population of 200,000.