Plymouth to bid to host new National HQ for Channel 4


Plymouth City Council has today written to Channel 4 Chief Executive Alex Mahon stating its intent to formally bid for the city to become one of Channel 4’s three new hubs once it relocates part of its operation outside of London.

The publicly-owned broadcaster last week announced that as part of their drive to increase the regional impact of their network, they would be moving 300 staff out of offices in London to a brand new ‘national headquarters’, with further staff to move to two newly creative hubs, also to be located in cities outside of London.

In the letter Plymouth City Council Leader, Ian Bowyer wrote: “One of the things that we love about Channel 4 is that you always pride yourselves on doing things differently. Rather than choosing an already significant regional broadcast centre, we could help you connect with an emerging new regional media cluster in the heart of the beautiful South West. With a statutory remit to deliver high-quality, innovative, alternative content that challenges the status quo, by choosing Plymouth as your national HQ or regional hub you can ensure you’re living and breathing this remit.”

He added: “Plymouth is undergoing a renaissance driven by culture and inclusive growth. The city can offer an indisputable economic argument for Channel 4 to relocate to the South Coast’s largest city. But more importantly than this, we are at the heart of an area brimming with untapped creative talent, and within a typical London commute can offer an inspirational and varied landscape for others to move to, whether as Channel 4 staff or establishing or working for the independent production companies who supply Channel 4.”

“One of the biggest challenges to a successful move for Channel 4 will be staff retention. Channel 4 is already a major success story and its’ talented staff are the key reason for this. We’re convinced your staff will love our city and region.”

The city which is chosen to host the national headquarters will benefit from an immediate influx of 300 new jobs, but will also benefit from the many hundreds of jobs and accompanying investment that will support Channel 4.

As a publisher-broadcaster Channel 4 do not make content themselves, but commission hundreds of millions of pounds worth of content from the independent sector, whether long-form programmes for television broadcast or short form digital content for their online platform All 4.

Plymouth is already home to independent production companies including the Twofour Group, based in Estover, who make the award winning ‘Educating Essex’ and live winter sports series ‘The Jump’ for Channel 4.Plymouth sits within a regional cluster of small independent production companies producing programming for major broadcasters such as Denham Productions, Original Concept Productions, Redhanded TV, Beagle Film, Defacto Films, Media Workshop, River Collective.

Plymouth City Council has been working behind the scenes on a bid to bring Channel 4 to the city for some time, having responded to a formal Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport consultation on Channel 4 last July.

The letter also mentioned possible locations within the city for Channel 4, stating: “Plymouth has a choice of inspiring commercially viable buildings, including stunning prime waterfront space that could be made available, creating huge cost savings over other competing UK cities.”

Councillor Bowyer ended his letter by inviting the new Chief Executive of Channel 4 to visit Plymouth so that the team at the Council can better understand exactly what Channel 4 needs from their new National Headquarters and the Council can showcase exactly why they believe Plymouth is the perfect place for Channel 4.

He said: “Plymouth has a progressive and dynamic strategic leadership (both public and private sector) with a tenacious team ready and willing to bring Channel 4 into the city and support its transition in every way possible.”

It is expected that the formal invitation from Channel 4 to cities to bid will be issued in April with a decision made by September this year.