Channel 4 officially launches HQ in Leeds and begins 'new era'

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Alex Mahon

Channel 4 has officially opened its National Headquarters in Leeds with an event for staff, partners and producers from the region.

CEO Alex Mahon officially marked the opening of the new base - a large office in the West Gate development that will act as the broadcaster's temporary home until the move to a permanent HQ in the Majestic in 2020.

Mahon said: “The launch of our National HQ in Leeds is the start a new era for Channel 4. An era in which we will be rooted in and more connected to the lives of the communities that make up the UK.

“Channel 4 will not just look and feel different but will think and behave differently.  We’ll be more accessible to our partners in the industry and more visible to those that may one day work in it.   It’s the biggest change in our 37-year history and I’m so proud that we’re now here.”

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council added: “The announcement that Channel 4 will be joining us in Leeds has acted as a huge catalyst for growth in our film, TV and creative sectors over the past year as well as creating an unprecedented buzz about what the future holds for everyone involved in those industries.

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“With demand for more studio space in the city already high, it’s also meant that we’ve been able to further support some incredibly imaginative and forward-thinking plans which will see places like the Polestar Petty printworks and Engine House become state-of-the-art facilities, creating a number of new jobs, bringing further investment to the city and helping those sectors to flourish.

“This an exciting time to be in Leeds and to be part of making that shared vision of our city as a hub for creativity and innovation a reality.”

Leeds is the first of the three new Channel 4 bases to launch for business, with the new Creative Hubs in Bristol’s Finzels Reach development and Glasgow’s Garment Factory both opening in November. They join the organisation’s London HQ at Horseferry Road and Nations & Regions ad sales base in Manchester.

Around 250 Channel 4 jobs will be based in Leeds and the HQ will house a range of creative, digital and technology departments. It will be the home to programme commissioners across a range of genres including comedy, daytime, entertainment, E4, popular factual and sport including Head of Drama, Caroline Hollick and Head of Sport, Pete Andrews. The National HQ will be led by Sinead Rocks, Managing Director Channel 4 Nations and Regions.

Channel 4’s new Digital Creative Unit, a new in-house digital agency commissioning and producing content for social and digital platforms, will also be based in Leeds as well staff from the creative diversity teams, the Indie Growth Fund, the Pictures team and members of teams supporting All 4, finance, business affairs, press and corporate relations, audience research and insight, human resources, data science, information and archives and workspace.

Channel 4 News will be establishing a news hub in Leeds with the ability to regularly co-anchor the programme – and in 2020 Channel 4 will launch a new live daytime show filmed in the City.

The new bases are at the heart of Channel 4’s 4 All the UK strategy to attract and develop talent from across the UK, both on and off-screen, and support the significant increase in the organisation’s Nations & Regions spend on creative content – from 35% to 50% of main channel UK commissions by 2023, worth up to £250m more in total. 

When fully implemented, the 4 All the UK strategy will result in 300 jobs being created in the Nations & Regions.

New partnership and regional investment strategy

Mahon announced a range of commitments to boost creativity across the Nations and Regions and develop a wider talent pool within the broadcast industry.

To help the sustainable growth of the production sector in the Nations and Regions, Channel 4 will launch a new Emerging Indie Fund to provide bespoke support for indies to develop and grow their business – succeeding the current Alpha Fund. 

The Emerging Indie Fund will sit alongside Channel 4’s successful Indie Growth Fund, which will be based in Leeds and has been re-focused to prioritise investment in Nations and Regions, BAME-led and digital companies.

In addition, Channel 4 will help stimulate new ideas from producers outside London by devolving a significant dedicated development fund to Nations and Regions commissioners in the Nations and Regions from 2020.

To support the development of talent across the Nations and Regions, Channel 4 will launch a new academy in 2020 with the aim of attracting people into broadcasting and production from diverse backgrounds, address skills gaps and support the development of talent at more senior levels.

It will bring together existing 4Talent initiatives at a grassroots level, alongside existing training partnerships with NFTS and Screen Skills in addition to new senior level talent initiatives.

As part of this there will also be a new commitment to 50% of Channel 4’s apprenticeships and 75% of Production Training Scheme placements being made in the Nations & Regions.