Despite setbacks and cancellations, 5 years in, Channel 4 say they are committed to a future outside of London
Speaking at Journalism and Media Week at Leeds Trinity University, Channel 4’s Tim English and Gemma Bareham reaffirmed Channel 4’s commitment to their future in Leeds.
Recent comments about a slowdown in commissioning from Channel 4 Commissioning Editor Ian Katz sparked concerns over the fate of Channel 4’s headquarters in Leeds. While all broadcasters had been affected, Tim English, Channel 4’s Group PR Manager, said that the increased use of independent productions companies had resulted in them receiving increased negative attention.
He said: “Channel 4 has really taken a big hit on that publicly because we always use indies.
“All of the broadcasters have been making cuts, but the headlines have been about us.”
The subsequent cancellation of Steph’s Packed Lunch, the flagship export of the broadcaster’s northern hub, seemingly ratified concerns over the expansion’s future. Despite this, Tim English says that Channel 4 are committed to, and confident of, their continued growth in Leeds.
He said: “It’s a journey which we’ve started and there’s no going back from it.
“Even with that backdrop, there’s absolutely no doubt that Channel 4 is committed to expanding even further.”
Channel 4 have also backed up their verbal commitment with more tangible promises. English cited the 400 jobs already created, with a further 200 expected by 2025, as proof of their intention to remain.
When the original move was announced in 2019, around 90 percent of those told they would be relocated opted for redundancy instead. Gemma Bareham, Publicity Manager, said that while it may have resulted in a loss of expertise, it allowed for the new location to develop its own identity.
Having grown up in Yorkshire, she moved south at the start of her career. She said: “To work in TV, you had to go to London.
“Seeing people coming in at entry level from Yorkshire and knowing that their careers can progress in Yorkshire is brilliant.”
Tim English also said that the unique identity of the Leeds branch allowed them to “see things differently to how they’re rolled out in London.”
While once the upper echelons of journalism were exclusive to England’s capital city, the broadcaster is not just using Leeds as a development centre for their London HQ argued Bareham.
She said: “I think it’s entirely possible to fulfil your entire career outside of London now.”