Channel 4 hopes to act as catalyst for further growth in Yorkshire, Leeds Chamber dinner is told

Sinead Rocks
Sinead Rocks
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CHANNEL 4 hopes to act as a catalyst for further economic growth in Yorkshire, a major business event was told

Sinead Rocks, Channel 4's first managing director for Nations and Regions, made the comments during a keynote speech at Leeds Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner, which was held at the Queens Hotel in Leeds.

Ms Rocks, who is the lead executive at the broadcaster's new national headquarters in Leeds, told the audience of business leaders: "We have well and truly landed in Leeds. All of this is a really big deal for us. Our entire future depends on making this work."

In her speech, Ms Rocks said investment and opportunity had become over-centralised in the South of England. However, Channel 4 was committed to increasing the amount of money it spends in the nations and regions, so the whole of the UK could be reflected on screen, she added.

She added: "We live in a society where differing view points have never been more apparent."

"We have moved a huge chunk of commissioning roles out of London. There is a vibrant digital community here. Now we're here we need to get cracking. We want to stop people having to go to London to further their career. All of this is a long term investment in people and a long term investment in places.

She said: "We hope Channel 4 will act as a catalyst for further growth in the region."

Last year, Channel 4 outlined a strategy to pump investment into Yorkshire and retain the skills of talented youngsters who in the past may have sought opportunities in the capital.

Chief executive officer Alex Mahon said the broadcaster would start an Emerging Indie Fund for creators to "spend without recourse to people in London" and set up a talent academy to foster and retain skilled professionals.

Channel 4 will help stimulate new ideas from producers outside London by devolving dedicated development fund to Nations and Regions commissioners from 2020.

To support the development of talent across these areas, the broadcaster will launch a new academy in 2020 with the aim of attracting people into broadcasting and production from diverse backgrounds. It also aims to address skills gaps and support the development of talent at more senior levels.

The dinner also included a speech from Amanda Beresford, the president of Leeds Chamber of Commerce, and a collection on behalf of the Market Place, a charity which provides free information, support and counselling to young people in Leeds.