Leeds City Region confirmed it is bidding for the relocation of Channel 4 operations and in partnership with Screen Yorkshire has developed an ambitious bid to host key elements of Channel 4 activity as part of a wider sector ambition to develop the regions creative and digital sector. The proposal details the exciting opportunities for content creation, digital sector growth and a more representative national media that would be accelerated if the region’s proposal is taken forward and in keeping with Channel 4’s ethos of “fostering the new and experimental in television”.
Crucially, the proposal suggests a move to the region would help the broadcaster better reflect the under-represented parts of the country and how establishing a commissioning presence in the region would better connect the broadcaster with the culturally diverse population who live here. In particular it is highlighted that virtually all media investment has gone into the West of the country and this opportunity provides an ideal opportunity to redress that imbalance. All the Local Authorities, cities, towns and industry players of Leeds City Region have come together, with Screen Yorkshire, in an unprecedented show of solidarity and determination to support this bid.
Added to this is Leeds City Region’s rich cultural heritage including the UNESCO City of Media Art York, the UNESCO City of Film Bradford where the ‘crown jewels’ and ‘science’ of the screen industry are housed at the National Science and Media Museum, and the fast growing, thriving digital and tech sector in Leeds.
This follows the news that the Yorkshire & Humber is now the UK’s fastest growing region for film and TV supported by Screen Yorkshire’s Yorkshire Content Fund, which has secured over £157 million of new business to the region through its investment such as Dad’s Army, Swallows & Amazons, Testament of Youth, National Treasure and Peaky Blinders.
Speaking about the proposal, Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said:
“Our bid addresses the huge imbalance that’s been allowed to develop, with virtually all investment going into the western side of the UK. This is not a sustainable position and we are confident that working in partnership with Channel 4 our proposals can bring positive impact and benefits to a very wide geographic area, namely the 18.2m people living on the eastern side of the UK who are currently underrepresented. We are convinced our ambition matches that of Channel 4: we’re both innovative challengers who like to do things differently.”
Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council said:
“This is a really exciting opportunity. It would be truly inspirational for the next generation to have such an innovative brand here, especially for the city with the youngest population. We’ve shown again and again, the success of the Bradford Literature Festival and the opening of the new Hockney Gallery, a dynamic approach to culture at the heart our communities.”
Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council added:
“This bid has been built on collaboration between all the Local Authorities to put together our most compelling case. We all recognise the benefit that a Channel 4 investment could bring. Culture, diversity and innovation runs through the DNA of Leeds City Region and is inextricably linked to the people who live here and what they do. We have the creative talent, digital expertise, great places, convenient transport links and world-class education establishments.”
Sally Joynson, Chief Executive of Screen Yorkshire, worked in partnership with Leeds City Region on the response said:
“Our aim in putting together this proposal was to demonstrate a strong understanding of Channel 4’s role as a public sector broadcaster: their attitude; platforms, content and insatiable appetite for engaging with new talent and voices. From that base, we’ve worked with the region’s independent production companies, industry suppliers, universities, schools and Local Authorities to understand the roles we can all play in building a long-term partnership with Channel 4.”