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Why Channel 4 said 'no' to a Birmingham HQ

Birmingham has seen its hopes of being chosen as Channel 4's new headquarters dashed.

The broadcaster announced that it has decided to move instead to Leeds, in what many saw as a surprise move.

Alex Mahon, chief executive of Channel 4 said: “Leeds put forward a compelling and ambitious strategy for how they could work alongside Channel 4 to further build the strong independent production sector in the city and develop new diverse talent from across the region.

"Locating our national HQ in Leeds enables us to capitalise on a strong and fast-growing independent production sector in cities across the north of England - and also has the potential to unlock growth in the north-east and east of the country, an area without a major presence from other national broadcasters.

“We undertook a rigorous process over the last seven months and the high calibre of all the pitches meant those were incredibly difficult decisions to make. I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all those involved for the effort and passion they put in – particularly Andy Street for Birmingham, Huw Thomas in Cardiff, and Sir Richard Leese in Greater Manchester.

"I hope we can continue discussions with all of them about how we can develop new partnerships with each of their cities - particularly since we will be spending up to £250m more in the Nations and Regions over the next five years and want to work with producers and talent in all of these areas.”

Greater Birmingham Chamber chief executive Paul Faulkner admitted it was disappointing news, but said it was time to reflect on a brilliant campaign which had brought together so many people across the West Midlands.

“It’s a blow for Greater Birmingham and a huge disappointment for the team who put such a compelling case for C4 to set up in Birmingham.

“We congratulate Leeds on their victory but we have so much to look forward to here in Birmingham and the West Midlands, like the 2022 commonwealth Games and HS2 the continued development of our city.

“London and Leeds are almost equal distances from Birmingham so we look forward extensive coverage on Channel 4. We have no doubt that the brilliant cultural sector in the city and region will continue to flourish and go from strength to strength regardless of this decision.  

The move is all part of a plan to increase the amount Channel 4 spends on programmes outside London by £250m over the next five years. That means half of its programme budget will be spent outside the capital by 2023, up from 35 per cent currently.

All three new sites will house "key creative decision-makers" including programme commissioners who will have responsibility "for some of Channel 4's biggest shows and who oversee significant spend".

The new national HQ will also regularly host executive and board meetings. Channel 4 News will also open three new bureaux outside London, but they may not be in the same locations.

West Midlands mayor Andy Street added: "Clearly the news that Birmingham has not been successful in the Channel 4 bidding process is a huge disappointment. However, the work that has gone into the bid has not been wasted.

"The West Midlands came together as part of the process and now we look to the future as we commit to delivering initiatives and funding to help transform our creative industries."

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