Channel 4 is to move more than a quarter of its staff out of London to help distribute media jobs throughout the UK.
After more than a year of speculation that the broadcaster could leave London, it has announced that it will not sell its £100m capital HQ but will divert 300 of its 800 staff to locations outside of the capital, adding to the 30-odd staff employed around the UK regions.
The plan, dubbed '4 All the UK' was presented by chief executive Alex Mahon this afternoon and represents the biggest structural change in the company’s 35-year history. The public service broadcaster had been previously given a March deadline by the government to get the move in motion, having been issued with an order to move a “material” part of its business.
The plans were initially resisted by Channel 4. Now by 2023, the broadcaster has vowed to spend some 50% of its content funds in the regions. Supporting the London HQ will be a "national" office and two new creative hubs, with city bidding to open up in April and Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield and Leeds reported by The Guardian as among those interested in hosting.
The national office will feature a studio where daily programmes will be filmed. The broadcaster estimates that 300 jobs will move to the regions and 3,000 production jobs will be supplemented by the new business.
Mahon said: “As a public service broadcaster with diversity in its DNA, Channel 4 has a unique ability to reflect our society. This is a significant and exciting moment of change for Channel 4 as we evolve to ensure we are best suited to serve all of the UK.
“With this new strategy we will go even further to make sure that people right across the UK are represented on screen and in the make up of our own organisation – and it will also build on what we already do to support creative businesses, jobs and economies in the Nations & Regions.”
The effort echoes the BBC’s Salford move in 2012. Nonetheless, a report from Centre for Cities said there was 'very small benefit to the region' from the move.