Channel 4 have hit back at rumours that large numbers of their London-based staff are set to take redundancy rather than move to Leeds.
Around 200 roles currently based in the capital are due to be relocated to the broadcaster's new head office in Leeds this summer.
The Guardian claimed in an article published on Sunday that 'up to 90 per cent' of affected staff had declined the opportunity to move and had instead opted to take redundancy. A further 500 staff whose roles are not affected will remain in London. They even speculated that only between 20-40 Londoners would end up moving to Leeds.
Channel 4 have responded by clarifying that the consultancy process with affected employees is still ongoing and that many workers have not made a final decision.
The relocation does not involve the parachuting of entire departments into Leeds - instead, a number of roles from each department have been selected to be part of the transition. If a current employee does not accept the relocation package offered to them, their job will be re-advertised - meaning that hundreds of roles could potentially be up for grabs for talent already based in Yorkshire.
In May, Channel 4's head of drama Caroline Hollick became the first member of staff to move to Leeds, setting up her workspace in temporary offices at The Platform, next to Leeds Station. Her colleagues are expected to make the move north later this summer, and by September the staff will transfer to the West Gate development on Grace Street on a short-term office lease.
They won't move to their dedicated HQ in the former Majestic nightclub building on City Square until summer 2020, as renovation work is still ongoing. The Majestic will become Channel 4's national headquarters and a major news hub. The managing director will be based there, alongside the Nations & Regions department, programme commissioners, the new Digital Creative Unit and support staff. Channel 4 News will regularly be co-anchored from the new Leeds studio within the Majestic.
Channel 4 chiefs said they were attracted to the historic Majestic because of its location at the heart of the city centre, ample space and facilities, and iconic status They have also committed to increasing the number of TV programmes they commission using production companies based outside London from 35 per cent to 55 per cent.
A Channel 4 spokesperson said:
"The 4 All the UK strategy is a transformational long term investment in the future of Channel 4. It will enable Channel 4 to reach new stories, ideas and talent from across the UK that others are not able to, deliver new creative and commercial benefits for the organisation, and will generate jobs and growth in the creative economy outside of London."
These are the programmes that will be commissioned from Leeds
Departments include: Comedy, Daytime, Drama, Entertainment & Live Events, E4, Factual, Features & Formats and Sport. Channel 4 do not produce their own programmes - they commission independent production companies to do so on their behalf. The On-Screen Talent and Creative Diversity teams will also work from Leeds. Commissioners from these departments will work with producers and talent across the UK to support the significant growth in Channel 4’s Nations & Regions content spend and create more opportunities for regional voices and talent on and off-screen.
Digital and social media content producers
A new creative digital unit will be established at the Leeds site - the Digital Creative Unit. They will be responsible for commissioning and producing digital content to reach audiences on social and digital platforms. The Digital Creative Unit will work with departments across the organisation, and with independent producers, to support new digital talent and Channel 4’s investment in youth content and audiences.
The ITN news team will be sub-contracted to broadcast news programmes from the Leeds studio.
Other creative departments
Leeds will also house other creative departments including the on-air continuity department, who produce and voice the airtime between Channel 4 programmes; and the Pictures team, commissioning and creating images for All 4 and for external media. There will also be a team supporting a new studio within the National HQ, and creative and digital roles from 4Creative, All 4, and the Listings team.
Indie Growth Fund
The Indie Growth Fund will be based in the Leeds HQ as it refocuses on supporting the 4 All the UK strategy through investing in growing Nations & Regions independent production companies. There will also be roles from the Advertising Sales Operations team.
Other supporting departments coming to Leeds
Audience Research & Insight, Business Affairs, Corporate Relations, Data Science, Finance, Human Resources, Information & Archives, Press & Publicity, Production Finance, Systems Delivery, Technology, Workspace.