Glasgow announced as location for new Channel 4 creative hub

Written by Jenni Davidson on 31 October 2018 in News

The broadcaster’s new national HQ will be located in Leeds, while Bristol will also have a creative hub

Glasgow - Image credit: Jon Shave via Flickr

Glasgow has been picked as the location for one of Channel 4’s two new creative hubs.

The broadcaster is moving some production out of London as part of a plan for greater investment in the ‘nations and regions’ and to ensure it better represents the whole of the UK.

The channel’s new national headquarters will be in Leeds, while a second creative hub will be located in Bristol.

The new HQ and creative hubs will be home to 300 jobs between them when fully established, including commissioners responsible for commissioning Channel 4 content and programmes across the UK.

The decision to locate on one of the hubs in Scotland will provide a boost to Glasgow’s existing mix of broadcasters and independent production companies, as well as the sector across the country.

Channel 4 said Glasgow has been picked for its “incredibly well-established and vibrant independent production sector” with “strengths across a number of different programme genres”.

It predicted the new hub would bring Channel 4 commissioners closer to key production partners in the city and help develop the production and creative sector across Scotland, while also providing the opportunity to exploit the strong connection with Belfast and develop deeper links with the production sector in Northern Ireland.

The hub will also enable the Channel 4 to “harness the city’s rich cultural diversity”, improve on-screen representation and work with the sector and the region’s educational establishments to grow the pipeline of new talent into the production and broadcast industries, the broadcaster said.

Meanwhile the Leeds HQ will be a base for collaboration across other cities in the north of England and its “thriving digital industry” and “strong digital talent pool” will help support a new digital creative unit to grow the corporation’s impact across digital and social media platforms.

Following discussions between Channel 4 and ITN, it has also been decided that a new Channel 4 News hub will be established in Leeds, following the decision for Channel 4 to be located there in a new building that includes a studio with the capability to regularly co-anchor the programme.

The Bristol hub will build on the existing television production sector in the city, which has particular strengths in areas such as animation and digital, and is expected to allow partnership with Cardiff and provide the opportunity grow the creative sector in the south west of England and South Wales

Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon said: “Diversity and inclusion have always been at the heart of Channel 4’s mission and the launch of our 4 All the UK plan is the biggest and most exciting change in the organisation’s 36-year history – as we open up Channel 4 to people from across the UK and supercharge the impact we have in all parts of the country.

“We will be spending up to £250m more on programming produced in the Nations and Regions and to catalyse that spend I’m delighted to confirm that we will be establishing a new National HQ in Leeds and new Creative Hubs in Bristol and Glasgow.

“We undertook a rigorous process over the last seven months and the high calibre of all the pitches meant those were incredibly difficult decisions to make.

“However, I know that Leeds, Bristol and Glasgow will best deliver our objectives to grow the production sector across the UK, build the pipeline of creative talent outside London and support our increased investment in programming produced across the Nations and Regions.”

SNP MP for Glasgow Central Alison Thewliss has welcomed the announcement.

She said: “I applaud Channel 4 for its bravery and radical thinking in breaking from the London-centric mould.

“Also, Stuart Cosgrove and the Glasgow campaign team did a great job in putting together an extremely convincing bid document, and should be commended for their hard work.

“Glasgow has a long and illustrious list of broadcasters and production companies who have been welcomed with open arms, and contribute so much to the creative fabric of the city.

“It is fantastic that Channel 4 will be joining them, and bringing its own unique brand of programming and content. I can’t wait for them to get started!”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the announcement was “fantastic news” for Scotland’s screen sector and creative industries.

 

Labour’s shadow Scotland Office minister Paul Sweeney MP commented: “While it was disappointing that Glasgow was not ultimately successful in securing the new headquarters for Channel 4, losing out to Leeds in the end, I very much welcome this proposal for an additional presence in Glasgow for the channel, in the form of a new creative hub.  

 “It is my hope that this base in Glasgow will allow the channel to be better embedded in the community, championing the industrial and political issues which affect working-class people.  

“As a state corporation Channel 4 is ultimately owned by the public, albeit in a different way to the BBC. Its ethos is to be radical and to challenge convention. 

“It is a perfect fit for a city with Glasgow’s heritage. I am therefore hopeful that a presence in Glasgow may help to ensure a greater breadth of perspectives will develop, and will mean more people hear their concerns and priorities aired on public service broadcasting.”

Channel 4 announced its 4 All the UK strategy to move some of its commissioning a production away from London in March 2018.

It is the biggest change to the structure of the organisation in its 35-year history, the broadcaster has said, involving a significant increase in ‘nations and regions’ content spend from 35 per cent to 50 per cent of its main channel UK commissions by 2023, a change that is worth up to £250m more in total.

This increase is expected to benefit all areas of the UK, not just the specific locations and support up to 3,000 production jobs across the country.

Pitches were invited from cities interested in being a new base for the broadcaster in April 2018, with 30 applications whittled down to a longlist of 13 and then a shortlist of six.

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