Bristol out of running for Channel 4’s new HQ but shortlisted for one of its creative hubs

Bristol has missed out on becoming the home of Channel 4’s new national headquarters but is still in the running to be the location for one of its two creative hubs.

Channel 4 said this afternoon that it is still talking to Birmingham, Greater Manchester and Leeds about the national HQ. Bristol, Cardiff and Glasgow will now compete for the creative hubs. 

Bosses from the TV company visited 13 shortlisted cities and regions in their search for suitable locations, with the half-day visit to Bristol taking place on June 22.

Bristol, along with Glasgow, were seen by many in the industry as potential front runners for the national headquarters – but neither have made it through to the next round for this first prize.

The new Channel 4 national HQ will operate alongside its London base and will include a TV studio as well as hosting executive and board meetings. It would have brought around 250 jobs to the city in areas such as digital, tech, commissioning, production, HR and legal along with, potentially, millions of pounds of additional work for local and regional companies linked to programme commissions. 

Bristol’s bid was led by Mayor Marvin Rees, pictured, who used it to showcase its rich and diverse creative and cultural sectors. These were key elements of Channel 4’s requirements.

Bristol case was also strengthened by its cultural attractions and festivals – few cities can rival its packed calendar of summer events which span a diverse range of music, art, theatre, poetry, comedy and films. 

Another Channel 4 stipulation was that the successful city offered opportunities for collaboration and partnerships – something else in which Bristol has a strong track record. 

The bid had powerful backing from the city’s MPs, Bristol City Council and its leading creative and cultural bodies including Aardman, Animations, Icon Films, Plimsoll and RDF West.

A meeting of the working group made up of key figures from the city’s creative sector to discuss the bid, pictured below outside City Hall, has a meeting planned for next week and will now turn its attention to winning one of the two creative hubs.

Channel 4 will now enter into detailed discussions with the six selected cities over the summer, a process led by executive board member and chief commercial officer Jonathan Allan. 

Bristol will find out whether it has been successful in securing one of the creative hubs in October at the same time as the location for the new national HQ is announced.

Mayor Rees tweeted this afternoon: “Delighted that Bristol is shortlisted for 1 of Channel4’s creative hubs Bristol has a dynamic combination of talent, thriving media sector & culture of innovation & disruption – just like C4. Congrats to all cities still in the running for the HQ.”

Jonathan Allan said: “Our visits to the 13 shortlisted cities over the last month were incredibly inspiring and I’d like to thank all of those involved for the huge amounts of creativity they demonstrated and the excitement for Channel 4 and what we could achieve together.

“We have again had to take some very difficult decisions on which cities to take forward to the next stage, but we believe the six cities we have selected are best able to deliver against our vision and requirements for the new national HQ and creative hubs.

“The national HQ and creative hubs are only one part of our ‘4 All the UK’ plan, which has at its heart, a commitment to significantly increase our Nations and Regions contend spend by £250m over the next five years. We therefore look forward to working closely with all those cities and regions that have been involved in the pitch process, as we look to catalyse that spend and support digital and production companies right across the UK.” 

Channel 4 received more than 30 submissions in the first round of applications from across the UK. Seven cities, including Bristol, were shortlisted for the national HQ or creative hub and a further six were shortlisted for consideration as a creative hub only. None of these six have made it onto the final list. The only one of the seven cities vying for the national HQ not to make it through to the next round was Liverpool.

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