The city has officially launched its bid for the most prized element of Channel 4’s partial relocation plan, following the broadcaster’s formal announcement of the 4 All in the UK project last week.
The reorganisation programme, the largest structural change in Channel 4‘s 35-year history, will include three new creative hubs, with the largest being a new national headquarters, which will include studio space and facilities to host executive and board meetings.
Channel 4 is to retain its London base, but move 300 of its 800 staff from the capital. It currently only employs 30 people outside London, comprising a commercial team in Manchester and a small presence in Glasgow. Last week, its senior executives presented the project to bidding cities, issuing a 15-page brochure outlining the brief.
City mayor Joe 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.”
Birmingham’s metro mayor Andy Street has been a vocal promoter of his city’s credentials for the project, while other cities that have expressed interest include Brighton, Bristol, Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham and Hull.
During his successful run to become Greater Manchester mayor last spring, Andy Burnham wrote to then-Culture Secretary Karen Bradley outlining MediaCityUK’s case as “the only viable alternative outside London,” a view since echoed by Salford City Council.
Liverpool, the most filmed location in the country outside London, has made the media and digital sectors a key part of its inward investment and regeneration work over the last two years.
A masterplan for the Ten Streets innovation district was approved in February, while in March, the council committed £1.8m to the acquisition of the MTL site on Edge Lane, completing site assembly for the Liverpool Film Studios project being delivered by Capital & Centric.
With a first phase starting this year comprising redevelopment of the former Littlewoods building and 45,000 sq ft of new build space, this will be a strong part of Liverpool’s case, given that the Channel 4 plan includes a commitment to spending half of its annual £700m programmes budget with production companies from outside London by 2023, a significant hike from the £169m it currently spends.
As part of 4 All in the UK, Channel 4 News is to open three new news bureaux, with a trebling of news jobs in the nations and regions by 2020 as part of the project.
Liverpool City Region metro mayor Steve Rotheram said: “Liverpool City Region has everything Channel 4 needs – amazing locations, quick and easy access to production hubs and arguably most importantly a supply line of up and coming talent.
“Channel 4 would revolutionise the city region’s creative industry, no question, and crucially would give a new generation of working class kids the opportunity to forge a career in the TV and film industry. Choosing Liverpool would send out a signal that Channel 4 has the appetite to be bold and creative.”
Prof. Nigel Weatherill, vice-chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University, which is part of the bid steering group established by Liverpool last year, said: “Channel 4 was created as a market intervention to make TV broadcasting more diverse and Liverpool is the obvious partner.
“The relocation to Liverpool would be a great opportunity for Channel 4 to return to a city that has been the incubator for some of their most loved programmes and we now have a thriving creative sector with a talent pipeline through the universities.”
Channel 4 is expected to announce its decisions in the third quarter of this year.