Are We Doing Enough To Make Channel Fwoarr?

Issue 27

The Government's pledge to move Channel 4's operations out of London presents a huge opportunity for a city in that great expanse of this nation I like to term as not-London.

I’d be dying to know if there is a willingness within the North East to stake their claim and roll out the red carpet to the broadcaster as its future HQ. Birmingham is making a big play, as are Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds/Bradford. The likes of Brighton, Hull and Nottingham have also already thrown their hat into the ring too. I feel Newcastle could compete pretty well with list, don’t you? There’s still time, so I hope others are thinking the same as me. Channel 4 are, probably unsurprisingly, making a strong case against the move. The arguments you hear against anything leaving the capital are predictable.

Among many things, they cite ‘a considerably smaller and less experienced pool of talent’ available outside of not-London. Myopic. Many of their compatriots at the BBC made the move North in 2011. Whatever your arguments about the output of the BBC generally, I’d love to see evidence to suggest the quality on BBC 5 Live or BBC Sport has suffered specifically because it moved to Manchester. I want success for this city, for this region, now more than ever, so I hope the powers that be forgive my over eagerness to see our name in the running. Perhaps I’m looking too hard. In my relatively new position of heading up Northern operations for a London communications agency, I remain fiercely proud that they chose to expand in Newcastle over other more predictable cities in the North that they could have headed to. I’ve also argued the case for a brand Newcastle to lead for the North East on these pages before.

I faced the vitriol (and I accept it’ll never happen) from those who think Newcastle already has ideas above its station in that regard. We’ll kindly agree to disagree on that front. We’ve seen how transformational it became for the wider region around Manchester when vast swathes of the BBC upped sticks and headed to Salford. These major relocations don’t just benefit a small section of a city, the uplift reverberates around the region. It’s estimated that some 4,000-plus jobs have been created at the BBC from that move, but you only have to look at how the self-styled capital of the North has positioned itself around such major developments for the long-term benefit of the regions. Reports suggest moving Channel 4 out of London could create 3,000 roles. There are other examples. The Tour de France (just about) touched the southern end of the region a few years ago, but it brought a multi-million pound legacy of cycling to Yorkshire. Millions of fans descended in 2014 and they still do for the newly created Tour de Yorkshire, which generates just as keen a following. And when this region does it, we do it well. The Baltic Centre for Contemporary Arts still holds the record for the most visitors for when the Turner Prize exhibition decided to make a rare foray out of London and to the North East in 2011.

I want success for this city, for this region, now more than ever

Christian Cerisola, W Communications

We have wonderful opportunities to put the region on the map again with the Great Exhibition of the North in 2018 and again with the World Transplant Games a year later. Sunderland are down to the final five for the 2021 City of Culture. That’s a great example of something the entire region must get behind for the greater benefit of the region. The Channel 4 relocation debate creates headlines across the UK and wider, not least in London. I can’t help but feel a North East city looks conspicuous by its absence at the moment.

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