Today, Channel 4 announced the seven cities that have made it through to the shortlist for their new National HQ – and Leeds is on it.
On 11th May 2018, the Leeds City Region submitted its bid to become the new home of Channel 4. As part of their plans to grow their Nations and Regions content, they’re opening a new National HQ outside London, alongside two smaller Creative Hubs – and they’ve just released the shortlist.
Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Bristol, Cardiff and Leeds are all in with a chance of becoming their new National HQ, while Sheffield, Belfast, Brighton, Newcastle-Gateshead, Nottingham and Stoke-on-Trent will battle it out to become one of their new creative hubs.
This is a really exciting opportunity for Leeds, and if we pull it off, it’ll go a long way towards both bolstering our reputation in the wider UK and driving growth in the Leeds City Region.
“Bringing such an iconic brand to the City Region would provide mutual benefits, creating fantastic opportunities for our young, diverse and digitally-savvy population, while providing Channel 4 the opportunity to access new talent and rebalance the creative sector in the UK,” Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council, Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council and Cllr Ian Gillies, Leader of City of York, explained in a joint statement.
Channel 4 is at the top of its game with a 10.5% peak-time portfolio share and 14.9 million registered viewers. In 2016, they invested £169 million in original content in the Nations and Regions, but that figure is expected to rise to £375 million by 2023.
This is the biggest structural change for the broadcaster in their 35-year history. It will see them move 300 jobs to their new HQ, which will include a new studio and a digital production unit, so they can produce daily programmes and insightful digital content that reflects the diversity of the UK.
They had 30 applications and they’ve whittled the list down to just thirteen, and only seven of those are in with a chance of becoming Channel 4’s new National HQ. The second stage of the process will see Channel 4 bosses travel to each of the shortlisted cities for a presentation and a Q&A session before they make their final decision on 1st October 2018. But things will move very quickly after that because they’re planning to open their new National HQ by 2019.
“We’ve been incredibly impressed both by the number of pitches we received and by the high quality of the submissions – which has underlined the huge amount of creativity, innovation and talent right across the UK,” Channel 4’s Chief Commercial Officer, Jonathan Allan, told us. “We look forward to visiting all those on the shortlist as part of our second phase, but we will also be continuing to work with all cities and regions as part of our strategy to increase investment and support creative businesses, jobs and growth across the UK.”
So why should we get it? Leeds is a vibrant city that’s on the up-and-up. We already have a strong film and TV sector, and our thriving digital landscape means that we can compete on a national scale. Add to that the abundance of talent coming out of the region’s universities and you’ve got a winning combination (at least we hope).
But it’s not just about cold hard facts, we have a shared ethos that might help to tip the scales in our favour, as Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, explained, “I believe firmly that what Channel 4 is looking for is also what we as a region desire; to harness our youth, celebrate our diversity, embrace our differences, nurture top talent and pioneer new technologies. Ultimately doing this will be the key to both of our successful futures!”
This is a big deal for Leeds and one that we can all get behind. Fingers crossed Channel 4 see the potential in the city and choose Leeds as their new home.