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Leeds Is Into the Final Three – Channel 4’s New National HQ Might Be Coming Home

· Ali Turner · Discussion

We're in the running to become the new home for Channel 4.

Leeds Skyline Trinity Leeds

Today, Channel 4 announced the three cities that have made it through to the final stages of their search for a 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 announced that Leeds has reached the final three.

Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds are all in the running to be the home of their National HQ, which means we’ve beaten off some seriously stiff competition. Glasgow, Liverpool, Bristol and Cardiff were all on the original shortlist, but after seven weeks of city visits and assessments, they’ve been knocked out of the running.

“Our visits to the 13 shortlisted cities over the last month were incredibly inspiring and I’d like to thank all of those involved for the huge amounts of creativity they demonstrated and the excitement for Channel 4 and what we could achieve together,” Channel 4 Executive Board Member and Chief Commercial Officer Jonathan Allan told us. “We have again had to take some very difficult decisions on which cities to take forward to the next stage, but we believe the six cities we have selected are best able to deliver against our vision and requirements for the new National HQ and 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.

“Hosting Channel 4’s national headquarters would create fantastic opportunities, particularly for our young diverse and digital native population. In choosing our region, Channel 4 would gain access to new talent and voices, and help 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.

Leeds Skyline John Lewis

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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 six, only three of those are in with a chance of becoming Channel 4’s new National HQ. The final stage of the process will see Channel 4 bosses enter detailed negotiations with each of the cities selected, 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.

Leeds Trinity University

Credit: Leeds Trinity University

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 Channel 4 and Leeds City Region share the same ambitions, to celebrate our diversity, nurture creative talent and pioneer new technologies, making us ideal partners.”

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.