Channel 4 to start the move to Leeds next summer

Channel 4 is to begin relocating staff to Leeds from summer of next year in a move its chief executive said would provide new opportunities for people to work in creative and broadcasting industries.

Chanel 4 Chief Executive Alex Mahon pictured at Northern Ballet, Leeds....2nd November 2018 ..Picture by Simon Hulme
Chanel 4 Chief Executive Alex Mahon pictured at Northern Ballet, Leeds....2nd November 2018 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

Alex Mahon told The Yorkshire Post that huge amounts of the broadcaster’s creative decision making will be done from Leeds, something she said would alter the flavour and tone of the channel.

She added that the process of selecting where exactly in the city it will be based was underway and that Leeds had been “a really clear winner” in the bidding process.

“We are looking to grow how we spend money,” she said.

“We are going to spend an extra quarter of a billion pounds across the UK. So Leeds gave us the reach across the North. But it also has an amazing independent production community already.

“We want to grow the pipeline of talent into the sector. Leeds and Bradford will allow us to bring really diverse, young and new people into the sector.”

Leeds came out ahead of Manchester and Birmingham in the selection process which will see a total of 300 new roles created by the broadcaster in the city by 2023.

It is also to open a new broadcasting studio to allow Channel 4 news to be anchored from both Leeds and the capital.

Chanel 4 Chief Executive Alex Mahon pictured at Northern Ballet, Leeds....2nd November 2018 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

Ms Mahon added that a completely new digital creative unit would be opened in Leeds and that it would be looking to recruit locally to staff it.

“I think actually for people in the area, that is a really exciting thing,” she said.

“There is always with us a particular focus on how we bring new talent into the industry.

“Channel 4 has got a real role in bringing people into the industry that would not otherwise have a chance to do it. That is even more true for people who either can’t afford or don’t want to move to London.

“This is a big opportunity to bring them into the sector.”

Ms Mahon took the helm at Channel 4 in October last year and is the first female chief executive of any major broadcaster.

The relocation and ability to broadcast from outside of London will change the nature and style of the way news is produced she said.

“The flavour of the news is very different where you have it,” she said.

The bid team celebrate Channel 4 coming to Leeds...31st October 2018 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

“Having contributors and producers outside of London will help us represent a lot more of the UK.

“What we are trying to do is make sure that we represent wider views, values, communities, backgrounds, opinions, accents and contributors that are not just London.

“I think really you have to have part of the team away from London to do that properly.

“So our aspiration is to represent better across the UK by doing that. You do make creative decisions differently if you are in other places and it is that sense that we want to get more in broadcasting.”

Ms Mahon was full of praise for the way the Leeds bid was organised.

“What we saw when we went out to hear the pitches was humbling. You had independents in there, universities, politicians - that combined sense of team and partnership. But the passion and excitement, and the fact that we felt we would make impact here, it was that combination. It felt vibrant and growing and different.”

When the BBC chose to relocate to Salford there were notable examples of celebrities bemoaning leaving London.

However, the reaction from Channel 4 staff so far has been “Super well so far” according to Ms Mahon.

Upon making the announcement she said: “There was a buzz in the room, there was whistle of delight. The team were all immediately on Rightmove to look at Leeds which is about as positive a sign as you could get.

“The strength of spirit that we have seen in Leeds, that creative spirit, that vibrancy, and the sense of building something new and changing is very much with what Channel 4 is about.