In Depth

Why is Channel 4 leaving London – and where will it go?

State-owned broadcaster to open ‘creative hubs’ around the UK

Channel 4 has announced it will move its headquarter out of London – and is looking for offers from cities and regions around the UK keen to give it a home.

Why is Channel 4 moving?The broadcaster has been under increasing pressure in the media to be less focused on the capital, part of a wider feeling in society that too much of British public life happens in London.

Why should it move?Channel 4 is a public-service broadcaster – although funded mostly by advertising, it is ultimately state-owned – so it has a responsibility to listen to these demands and has come under pressure from government.

Where is it based currently?Channel 4 has around 800 staff, according to The Guardian, and all but 30 work in London, where the company’s headquarters are on Horseferry Road, near Victoria station.

Will all staff move?No. While the broadcaster insists its new headquarters will not be in the capital, it is only proposing to move 300 staff out of London. The other 500 will stay behind.

Where might they go?

The frontrunner, after early enthusiasm for Manchester waned, is Birmingham, says the Guardian. The paper says lobbying has been “intense” but Brum has the advantage of the forthcoming high-speed rail link to London, HS2. Norwich has also thrown its hat into the ring.

Where else?The broadcaster is to open three new regional “creative hubs”, one of which will be the official headquarters. It will host executive and board meetings and will have “facilities including a TV studio”, says The Guardian.

So that’s sorted, then?Maybe. The BBC bowed to similar anti-London sentiment in 2011, opening its regional hub in Media City, Salford. Since then, there has been negative coverage suggesting the national broadcaster is paying lip service to regionalism while its elitist senior staff still live in the capital.

What are the complaints?In 2013, The Daily Telegraph reported the BBC spent £2m ferrying staff between London and Salford, including £26,000 on taxis. Last year, i News said the move had had “little positive impact on jobs in Greater Manchester”.

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