Leeds has trumped rival bids from Birmingham and Greater Manchester (which already hosts the BBC) to emerge as the future regional home of Channel 4.
The decision comes after months of lobbying on behalf of councils and local governments, with fierce competition emerging from the battle to bring hundreds of high-profile jobs and hundreds of millions of investments to the chosen region.
Although Leeds wasn’t widely considered to be the frontrunner for the regional HQ, it nonetheless triumphed and will soon play host to a new broadcasting outpost. Around 200 staff will relocate to the city by the end of 2019 and the move will also include the creation of a new TV studio and Channel 4 News bureau, enabling their nightly news programme to be co-anchored from the city.
The decision now means that, soon, Channel 4 will join the BBC and ITV in basing part of their operations from within the city, which boasts an increasingly large media sector to partner it’s huge financial and law sectors.
Affordable housing, strong transport links and a growing worldwide status all weighed heavily in the city’s favour, it is believed, helping Leeds beat out keen rivals in Manchester and Birmingham, both of which had expressed publicly their confidence in winning the bid. West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street, repeatedly stated his confidence in winning the bid.
“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,” said the Channel 4 chief executive, Alex Mahon.
A major contributing factor to Leeds’ successful bid was its close proximity to independent production companies in Yorkshire and the North-East, which are currently underserved by broadcasters.
Although the majority of staff will remain in London and operate from their South-West London HQ, their presence in Leeds will open up their commissioning structure, enabling new and diverse voices to gain a platform on the channel.
Mahon said: “It’s a vibrant and growing city. It has a really, really strong production sector … they were very strong in terms of their partnerships and they have a diverse community across the Leeds-Bradford region.”
Channel 4 become yet another large body to announce a relocation to Leeds after the Civil Service announced the relocation of 6,000 jobs to a new hub in Leeds last year.
Needless to say, the news has been greeted with jubilation across the city and local government, with Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, commenting “Together with Bradford, we have one of the youngest and fastest-growing labour markets in the UK. The news of Channel 4 choosing Leeds will have a very positive impact on these generations and is a real triumph for the city and wider region.”