YORK could be the new home for Channel 4 “if city leaders get their way”, according to a report in my old newspaper. There was wisdom in choosing those six words as local politicians are unlikely to get their way.
The broadcaster could be on the move as the Tory manifesto decided against privatising Channel 4, but instead offered a house swap: stay publicly funded but move out of London.
As we have seen this week, the government enjoys bossing broadcasters. With the BBC, it was enforced revelation of salaries paid to star names; with Channel 4 the government has looked at the title of its property show Location, Location, Location, and decided that the broadcaster should move, move, move.
As a proud resident of York, I’d love to see Channel 4 relocate to York Central, the brownfield site behind the station. This is what councillor leader David Carr is “pushing hard for”, according to the Press (never heard of the man, but then I am out of touch).
Good luck to him, but York’s chances are not high. Birmingham is thought to be the frontrunner if this move, which is being resisted by Channel 4, ever happens. Manchester has a strong case thanks to the thriving Media City – which, to be clear, is in Salford and not Manchester, something which can cause local prickliness.
Other cities in the running include Sheffield, Leeds and Liverpool, while the Bristol Post reported last month that “Bristol could be the new home of Channel 4”.
According to the Metro Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, “I would say Bristol is leading the way – we are at the forefront of this.”
So perhaps David Carr will not get his way. The smart money is on Birmingham because the new mayor there, former John Lewis boss Andy Street, was quickest off the block in offering to put up Kirsty and Phil while they sought a new home for Channel 4.
Moving broadcasters out of London is far from a bad thing, but only if it happens for good reasons and not as ideological punishment from a government that seems to dislike publicly funded broadcasters. Channel 4 isn’t what it was, but the station has preserved some of its original quirkiness and bolshie spirit, and Channel 4 News is often the one to watch, with Jon Snow being a sort of patron saint of news.
As for York, the city’s links to Channel 4 are not the strongest. That bloke from Brookside was murdered here – in a spin-off from the soap, called Damon and Debbie. Come Dine With Me has been here a few times, I believe, and Location, Location, Location was reported in May to be filming an episode based in the city.
But perhaps I should get behind this move: maybe there might be a job in it for late middle-aged men who hang around on ledges. Then again…