Channel 4 sparks new era of success for Leeds City Region

Last Wednesday, buildings across Leeds and beyond turned yellow in celebration of the announcement we’ve been working towards for two years… Channel 4 has chosen the city and our region as the home of their new national HQ.

In addition it was announced that a news studio will open here, meaning the Channel 4 evening news will be co-anchored in Leeds and London.

The scale of support for our bid to bring Channel 4 to the region – both during the process and following the announcement – has been overwhelming.

It is this strength of partnership that was fundamental to us securing the once-in-a-generation opportunity for our region.

Our campaign strapline was “Be the Spark”, and this exemplifies what Channel 4 could be for our region.

Beyond the 1,200 jobs that we estimate Channel 4’s move will create directly, it offers the opportunity to ignite rapid growth within our already thriving creative and digital industries.

As the only major broadcaster based on the eastern side of the UK, it will shine a light on the world-class film and TV production work taking place in this part of the Northern Powerhouse and help rebalance the UK broadcasting sector.

Our forecasts suggest the total economic impact of Channel 4’s move will be more than £1.2 billion over the next decade, although the true impact – taking into account the value of having a national broadcaster located here – will be even greater.

Leeds City Region has one of the youngest and fastest growing labour markets in the country. From next year onwards, young people in Leeds, Bradford – and York, Dewsbury, Castleford, Halifax, Huddersfield, and Harrogate; in fact all parts of our region – can be inspired by the opportunity to work for a national broadcaster without having to move to London.

By working with Channel 4 to create accessible skills and development programmes, we will ensure that people and businesses in our region are fully equipped to take advantage of these opportunities.

We have made huge strides in increasing our region’s share of inward investment in recent years, but becoming the new home of Channel 4 will raise our region’s profile nationally and internationally like nothing before.

We’ll be working hard to take advantage of the spotlight now on us to attract more creative industry business and talented workers to the region in Channel 4’s wake.

At the time of writing Endemol Shine North (rebranding as Workerbee), Wise Owl Films and UKTV have all since announced that they will be opening offices here.

The benefits of Channel 4’s decision for our region are clear. We also believe that our region can be a spark for Channel 4’s future growth in an increasingly competitive global media market.

A number of national media commentators have noted that Leeds City Region wasn’t the obvious choice for the company. However, Channel 4 knows far better than most about our region’s digital skills base and expertise.

Our diversity, creativity and dynamism were all critical factors in Channel 4’s decision, and will help Channel 4 tell new, different stories that reflect all parts of our country.

We’re already well connected to London, Scotland and Manchester, and when planned transport improvements are complete – particularly the Northern Powerhouse Rail high-speed rail link, integrated with HS2 – we will be at the heart of an even more powerful northern creative hub that can compete globally for the UK alongside London and the South East.

The Channel 4 executives that relocate to Leeds City Region will be sure of a reight warm Yorkshire welcome.

They will also be able to look forward to the outstanding, affordable quality of life for which our region is rightly famed.

I for one can’t wait to help Channel 4 make their new home a resounding success and realise the huge potential their move offers both the company and our region.

I’d like to end by thanking everyone who played a part in bringing Channel 4 to Leeds City Region: especially our partner councils, who came together to put forward a strong, collective bid on behalf of the whole region; Screen Yorkshire and the region’s dynamic creative community for showcasing the world-leading creativity within our cultural, creative, digital and screen industries; our universities and colleges who helped us demonstrate the strength of talent within our young, digitally savvy workforce; the Yorkshire Post, BBC and ITV for championing our bid; and the team who have worked so hard behind the scenes to make this success happen.

A compelling, ambitious strategy

From Channel 4’s announcement on locating its new national HQ in Leeds City Region:

“The Leeds City Region put forward a comprehensive, compelling and ambitious strategy to partner with Channel 4 and the wider sector to support growth in the production and creative industries, and to nurture new talent from diverse backgrounds – in the region and across the UK...

“Leeds also demonstrated a passionate commitment to work with Channel 4 to bring diverse new talent into the industry, working in partnership with other organisations and educational establishments – and through harnessing the diversity of different communities across the wider West Yorkshire region, such as Bradford & York.”