Channel 4’s off up north

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Birmingham has lost out in the race to be chosen as the city for Chanel 4’s new headquarters. Instead, the broadcaster announced today (31 October) that it would be setting up its new national HQ in Leeds.

Llewela Bailey, chairman of Birmingham Press Club, described Channel 4’s decision as a “major disappointment and a “huge blow” to those who had campaigned to persuade the broadcaster to set up home in the city

“We’re a city with big ambitions and a bright future. In fact the city of Birmingham, and the surrounding region, has everything that Channel 4 could have ever wanted. Sadly it’s not to be.”

Paul Faulkner, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, also registering disappointment at the decision, said:  “We congratulate Leeds on their victory but we have so much to look forward to here in Birmingham and the West Midlands, like the 2022 commonwealth Games, HS2 and the continued development of our city.

“London and Leeds are almost equal distances from Birmingham so we look forward extensive coverage on Channel 4.

 “We have no doubt that the brilliant cultural sector in the city and region will continue to flourish and go from strength to strength regardless of this decision,” he added

The channel also revealed that it would open “creative hubs” in Bristol and Glasgow, with around 50 staff in each location.

The moves are part of a plan to increase the amount Channel 4 spends on programmes outside London by £250m over the next five years. That means half of its programme budget will be spent outside the capital by 2023, up from 35 per cent currently.

All three new sites will house "key creative decision-makers" including programme commissioners who will have responsibility "for some of Channel 4's biggest shows and who oversee significant spend".

The new national HQ will regularly host executive and board meetings, and will be home to a "digital creative unit" to make material for online platforms and social media. Channel 4 News will also open three new bureaux outside London, but they may not be in the same locations.

Channel 4 said Leeds put forward an "ambitious strategy" to support growth in the creative industries and "to nurture new talent from diverse backgrounds - in the region and across the UK".

Chief executive Alex Mahon said: "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."

The move has come about after pressure from the government to boost the publicly owned broadcaster's presence outside London.

Channel 4 will still keep another headquarters in the capital, but will move roughly 200 of its 800 staff to the West Yorkshire city.