Channel 4 boss Alex Mahon in passionate call for local content ahead of Leeds HQ opening

Chanel 4 Chief Executive Alex Mahon pictured at Northern Ballet, Leeds.Picture by Simon Hulme.
Chanel 4 Chief Executive Alex Mahon pictured at Northern Ballet, Leeds.Picture by Simon Hulme.

Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon said that the broadcaster "must be more than a remote observer of the UK" in a speech ahead of a new national headquarters opening in Leeds.

In an address at at the Royal Television Society's Cambridge Convention this week, she said the publicly-owned and commercially-funded channel's role is "to be there to discover, support and give people a nationwide voice - wherever they are from" in a passionate call for locally-sourced content in the industry.

The former Majestic nightclub in City Square, Leeds. Picture by Tony Johnson.

The former Majestic nightclub in City Square, Leeds. Picture by Tony Johnson.

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She said: "Fresh and even more diverse talent, ideas and voices that we haven’t heard before are out there waiting for their chance. And Channel 4’s role is to be there to discover, support and give them a nationwide voice – wherever they are from.

"Channel 4 must be more than a remote observer of the UK and that is precisely why we are opening new bases in Leeds, Bristol and Glasgow this autumn and increasing our investment and presence in the Nations & Regions.

"Being part of a new landscape of innovation and risk is not just what we enjoy, but what we were made for."

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She also said that "in many other areas of business, the focus of growth is in fact on localism.

"It’s on nurturing the relevance and the appeal of products made with special care and skill in one location and exhibiting them to a much bigger market. It is a search for universal meaning and universal fascination even in the smallest places."

The gradual start to Channel 4's operations in Leeds is continuing this autumn with the broadcaster set to move into the refurbished Majestic building next year.

It will house a major news hub, a managing director, Nations & Regions department, programme commissioners, the new Digital Creative Unit and support staff.

Channel 4 News will also regularly be co-anchored from the new Leeds studio.

Ms Mahon spent 15 years running creative production companies.

She was CEO of Shine Group, which she joined in 2006 and, with partners, built the group into an organisation with 27 creative labels in 12 countries, and brands including MasterChef, Biggest Loser, Broadchurch, Spooks and The Bridge.

Before that she had a career in media across Europe, at Talkback Thames, FremantleMedia Group and RTL Group.

She started off as a PhD Physicist and then a strategy consultant at Mitchell Madison Group in the pre-2000 internet boom.