National broadcaster, once the home of popular Scouse soap Brookside is to set up a new national headquarters outside London and both our local mayors say Liverpool is the best location. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool is optimistic it can tempt broadcaster Channel 4 to locate its new national headquarters in the city – despite a number of reports saying Birmingham is the favourite.
Although a commercial entity, Channel 4 is publicly owned and it has agreed to the biggest shake-up in its 35-year history which will see 300 of its London-based staff move out of the capital.
Currently, just 30 of its staff are based outside London – 25 sales people in Manchester and a further five employees in Glasgow. The latest proposal would see a new national headquarters, plus two creative hubs, based in the regions.
Channel 4 has now invited bids from locations across the UK. Birmingham’s elected Mayor Andy Street has previously said he was confident his city would “get the nod” to be home to the new headquarters.
Salford’s Media City is also expected to be a strong contender but Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, and Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, have come together to put forward what they believe is a “compelling bid”.
Liverpool has a strong history with Channel 4. When it first went on air in November 1982 one of the first programmes to be broadcast was long-running Scouse soap Brookside, which for several years was one of its top-rated shows. Brookside creator Phil Redmond is one of the biggest advocates for bringing Channel 4 to Liverpool.
Mr Anderson and Mr Rotheram says Channel 4 would “find a soulmate in Liverpool” with a move that would breathe new energy into the public service broadcaster while transforming the city’s creative and digital sector.
They believe Liverpool, which has aspirations to create one of the largest film studios in the UK at the former Littlewoods Building on Edge Lane and is also developing a new creative quarter – Ten Streets, has several ready to go, high quality locations to show to the station.
The city, which established Europe’s first Film Office and is now the most filmed outside of London with £90m of productions currently in the pipeline, has also created a bid steering group that includes Liverpool John Moores University whose Screen School is recognised as one of the UK’s leading film faculties, with partnerships around the world.
Channel 4 News, fronted by University of Liverpool alumni Jon Snow, is to also open three new news bureaux, with a trebling of news jobs in the nations and regions by 2020, while spend on shows made by TV production companies based outside London will rise from £169m annually to about £350m a year by 2023.
Mayor Anderson said: “Liverpool and Channel 4 are soulmates in so many ways, our attitude, spirit and creative output make us a perfect match. We also have a long, successful history together from the day it launched and the airing of the first episode of Brookside.
“The city and the station have undergone huge changes since that historic day and the timing has never been better for Liverpool to help Channel 4 write this new chapter in reshaping the nation’s broadcasting landscape.”“