Against all odds, Leeds has fought off the competition and brought Channel 4’s National HQ home.
After 5 months of deliberations, Channel 4 has made its decision and it’s the news we all wanted to hear – their new National HQ is coming to Leeds. We were the underdog in this race. The media industry is notoriously West-heavy, giving our competition an edge, but Channel 4 stayed true to its roots by inspiring change, not just in audiences, but also in the industry itself.
As you probably know, 30 cities applied, but only 13 made it through to the initial shortlist, and of those, just seven were up for the National HQ – the others were battling it out for a chance to become one of two new Creative Hubs. They met with each and every city on the list, assessing them on the basis of their pitch entry guidelines, and in July, they announced the final three – Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham had all made it through.
Since then, Channel 4’s Chief Commercial Officer Jonathan Allan, has led an extensive negotiation process with all three finalists to determine which city is the best fit for their National HQ – and Leeds came out on top. They decided that our city was best able to deliver against their vision.
Why? Because of all the reasons we set out last month – our strong digital sector, our thriving independent production scene and our commitment to bring diverse new talent into the industry – but also because we presented a collaborative vision that made us partners in each other’s success.
“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,” Alex Mahon, Channel 4’s Chief Executive, explained. “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.”
Once established, the new National HQ will bring 300 jobs to Leeds, including a string of key creative decision makers. From their new base, they’ll be commissioning the Channel 4 content and programmes we see on the telly. The location was essential to their success because they’ll be working with their London HQ, their Creative Hubs and independent production houses all over the UK to increase their Nations and Regions content spend by £250 million by 2023.
And it’ll be as good for us as it is for them. Not only will the new National HQ help to raise the city’s profile, but it will also create a catalyst for growth, boosting the economy, bolstering our independent production sector and attracting new talent to the city. In short, it will have a huge transformational impact – more so than it ever would have in Manchester or Birmingham.
“Channel 4’s decision can truly ‘Be the Spark’ for a once-in-a-generation chance to rapidly grow our digital and creative sector, unlock opportunities for our talented young people and draw international attention to our region,” Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, told us. “In common with other businesses in this sector, Channel 4 has recognised the opportunity offered by our young and diverse population, our long-established and thriving creative community, our high concentration of universities, our connections to the rest of the UK and our quality of life.”
Today we celebrate, tomorrow we get to work – because Channel 4 plan to open their new National HQ in 2019 and we can’t wait for it to happen.