There has always been a degree of animosity between the north and south of England. After all, London is usually the designated hotspot for wealth and entertainment.
Now, the regional base and HQ for Channel 4 will move from London to Leeds. But can it start to heal the wound in the north and south divide?
The capital seems to have first pick for jobs, industry and theatre, and there are even large differences in schools and mortality rates too. Naturally, the north deserves more care and attention if it’s going to thrive. Without proper investment and opportunity, hard workers with enormous talent will have to keep looking to anywhere but the north for their career.
The moving of Channel 4 will bring with it a great deal of opportunity for the people of Leeds. The new HQ will support “key creative decision-makers” and also take on programme commissioners “for some of Channel 4’s biggest shows and who oversee significant spend”, according to BBC News coverage on the change. While some might view this transfer as a minor event for television only, it has broader implications for the power, money and workforces that flow through the Yorkshire city from here on.
Channel 4 Chief Executive Alex Mahon stated that Leeds is a “vibrant and growing city. It has a really, really strong production sector”, which makes the transfer more poignant and promising for the creative industry in Leeds. Channel 4 is a broadcaster that doesn’t create their own programming, thereby utilising the local talent of independent production companies near to their HQ; in this case, the companies located in Leeds.
Leeds has had a truly robust digital sector for a while now, attracting well-known digital agencies like Cyber-Duck to the city. The quality of graduates was a huge draw for the big business, and now Channel 4 can reap similar rewards. This decision not at all a charity move, but a lucrative business decision that benefits the broadcaster too. There’re fresh, skilled graduates from Britain’s top universities looking for work, established businesses with impressive track records, and a vibrant production scene. Ultimately, all the pieces are in place for a brighter future for both the station and the city.
There will also be a digital creative unit who will produce material for online platforms and social media, meaning most of the buzz surrounding Channel 4 will come directly from Leeds itself, instead of being a puppet of sorts for London-based executives. While there are other creative hubs to be established in Glasgow and Bristol, Leeds will play an instrumental part at one of Britain’s best television networks. It’s an innovative opportunity that will boost prospects, that anyone would readily grasp.
More than anything else, this transfer has the potential to create immense amounts of work for people in the area. Leeds has one of the fastest-growing Labour markets in the UK, boosting the creation of jobs not just for now, but for generations to come too. Channel 4 adds a great deal of fuel to this fire, offering up new jobs as well as inviting independent businesses to work with them.
In the end, Channel 4’s transfer doesn’t outright heal the disparity of resource between the north and south. However, it’s certainly a productive step forward in eventually reaching that goal.