Leading figures from across the West Midlands today backed efforts to bring Channel 4 to the region, as the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) submitted its official bid regarding the broadcaster’s new national headquarters.
Channel 4 is currently seeking to create three new creative hubs outside London as part of its ‘4 all the UK’ strategy, the largest of which will become the broadcaster’s national headquarters.
The new site will consist of offices, a new studio, a base for daily programmes and a new digital production unit.
The WMCA’s bid, which carries the tagline ‘Get Closer’, will be focused on a number of potential sites across Coventry and Birmingham.
Backed by Mayor Andy Street and the leaders of both Birmingham and Coventry City Council’s, the bid champions the region’s connectedness to the rest of the country, its diversity and its upcoming hosting of both the City of Culture title in Coventry in 2021 and the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in 2022.
The whole project in total is expected to create around 300 Channel 4 jobs, while the broadcaster says that increased programming spend will be supporting up to 3,000 additional production jobs in the Nations & Regions economy.
And West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, who recently celebrated one year in office, said that he believes that the West Midlands’ bid is in a strong position.
“The region has been campaigning to persuade Channel 4 to relocate since the Government first started making noises about this,” he said.
“Now the race is truly on. And because as a region we have worked together to identify and communicate our strengths, we are in a great position.
“Our bid is based on two key themes - our connectedness to the rest of the country, and the rich diversity of our population, a population we know that Channel 4 is keen to reflect.”
The bid was also backed by Birmingham City Council leader Ian Ward, who said: "No doubt about it, Birmingham is the natural place for Channel 4 to thrive.
“We have the digital skills, creative talent and energy needed to make the move a huge success and, with one of the youngest and most diverse populations in Europe, we're the natural choice for Channel 4.
"Our region is thriving and Channel 4 has a huge opportunity to tap into that and be a key player in an exciting cultural renaissance for the West Midlands."
A bid has also been received by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, while Warwickshire District Council has also previously declared an interest.
The bids from all regional contestants will be submitted today and Channel 4 will shortlist regions by May 30, 2018.
Following further consultation with the shortlisted regions, a final decision will be made later in the year with the move starting in early 2019.