This week Phil Redmond expressed an interest in relocating Channel Four to Liverpool. Years ago, I was in a group of students who met Phil and recall being impressed by his passion for developing new ideas and talent. Apart from the classic Grange Hill he wrote and produced Brookside, a soap set in Liverpool first broadcast on Channel 4’s opening night in 1982. It was one of the highlights, in terms of voting figures, of the channel’s attempt to break the BBC and ITV duopoly. Now it has an opportunity to follow the BBC out of London.
The government is consulting on moving the publicly owned channel, not least because they stand to gain about £100 million from selling its headquarters in Victoria. They previously moved the BBC to Salford at an estimated cost of about £180 million, some of which will be recouped over time by lower operating costs. Other possible destinations for Channel 4 include the West Midlands and West Yorkshire. The West Midlands Combined Authority estimate a £5 billion economic benefit over five years, with up to 800 jobs relocated or created.
And what of ITV, a company formed by regional franchises. Earlier this year they announced plans to build new headquarters on the sight of their old studios in South Bank. The divide between public and private broadcasters has never been greater.