Channel 4 has confirmed that Leeds will serve as the British public broadcaster’s new national headquarters in an effort to increase the organization’s content spend and presence outside of London.
The network has also chosen to open new creative hubs in Bristol and Glasgow. The moves mark the biggest change to Channel 4′s structure in its 35-year history.
The change is part of Channel 4′s “4 All the UK” strategy, launched in March and aimed at ensuring C4 is serving the whole of the UK by having creative decision makers well dispersed throughout the region.
At the heart of the initiative is an increase in C4′s Nations & Regions content spend, injecting more than US$345.7 million (£250 million), from 35% to 50%, into main channel UK commissions over the next five years.
According to C4, the increase in spend will benefit all areas of the UK, and will support up to 3,000 production jobs in the nations and regions.
The pubcaster will keep its London headquarters, but will begin to move nearly 200 staff – including key creative decision makers and commissioners responsible for some of Channel 4′s biggest shows – to its newly minted Leeds location in the second half of 2019.
Leeds was chosen over Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Greater Manchester, Liverpool and the West Midlands, which were also on the shortlist.
The new national headquarters will regularly host executive and board meetings, and will be home to a digital creative unit that will create content for online platforms and social media.
The Leeds office enables Channel 4 to exploit a “strong and fast-growing independent production sector across the North of England” while also initializing growth in the “underserved East and North-East of England” according to a statement.
The new base will also serve as a center for collaboration with producers and creative talent across other cities, including Bradford, Hull, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.
Channel 4 will separately move 100 staff to its newly established creative hubs in Bristol and Glasgow.
Through its Bristol hub, C4 will build on a television production sector already booming in the city while working closely in partnership with Cardiff and its production sector, thereby accelerating creative growth in the South West England and South Wales.
Glasgow’s hub, meanwhile, will help develop the production and creative sector across Scotland. Locating a creative hub in Glasgow also enables the media organization the opportunity to exploit the city’s connection with Belfast in an attempt to develop deeper links with the production sector in Northern Ireland.
“We undertook a rigorous process over the last seven months and the high caliber of all the pitches meant those were incredibly difficult decisions to make,” said Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon in a statement. “However, I know that Leeds, Bristol and Glasgow will best deliver our objectives to grow the production sector across the UK, build the pipeline of creative talent outside London and support our increased investment in programming produced across the Nations and Regions.”
“Bristol is a city that pushes boundaries, questions the norm and actively nurtures a strong culture of creative and digital innovation – we know Channel 4 will feel at home here,” added Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees. “This move will help to build on our existing thriving media industry and wealth of local talent. We look forward to welcoming Channel 4 to the city next year.”