Leeds has unexpectedly been chosen as the new regional base for Channel 4, beating rival bids from Greater Manchester and Birmingham.
The decision follows a fierce competition over the location for the broadcaster’s new outpost. About 200 staff will relocate to the city from the London headquarters by the end of next year. The move will also include the establishment of a new TV studio and Channel 4 News bureau, enabling the nightly news programme to be co-anchored from West Yorkshire.
The decision was made after a meeting of the Channel 4 board, with the competing cities kept in the dark until the announcement was made.
Greater Manchester had pointed to the growing media industry centred on the BBC and ITV’s presence in Salford Quays.
However, it was the West Yorkshire city that ultimately triumphed. “Leeds put forward a compelling and ambitious strategy for how they could work alongside Channel 4 to further build the strong independent production sector in the city and develop new diverse talent from across the region,” said the Channel 4 chief executive, Alex Mahon.
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Greater Manchester is already an established national broadcasting centre with a huge talent pool and flourishing creative industries. We firmly believe that relocation here would have strengthened both Channel Four and this existing creative ecosystem and are disappointed that they have not chosen to come here.
“However, our ambitions are undiminished, and we will continue to pursue opportunities to further grow jobs, opportunity and creativity in the city.”
Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett said: “It is disappointing Channel 4 are not joining the Greater Manchester creative and digital cluster.
Manchester ‘still home to largest digital and creative cluster’
“We firmly believe that we established the national value of cities and regions specialising in areas where they have a competitive advantage in order to grow – we have unrivalled infrastructure in Salford and Greater Manchester, which will continue to develop, competing not just with London but internationally.
“We would like to wish Channel 4 every success for the future.”
A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Combined Authority said: “We are, of course, disappointed that Greater Manchester will not be the home of Channel 4’s new National Headquarters.
“We are a proud city-region of innovation and our creative businesses and employment are truly thriving. With almost 8,000 digital and creative businesses, employing more than 82,300 people and generating £4.1bn of economic growth annually we are already home to the largest digital and creative cluster outside London.”
“We still believe that Greater Manchester would have been the right home for Channel 4’s National HQ and we are proud of the bid process we ran. However, our heartfelt congratulations go to Leeds.”