Organisations across the West Midlands, including the Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP (GBSLEP), have joined forces to formally launch a bid to bring Channel 4 (C4) to the region.
On Friday 11 May, the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) submitted the case to the broadcaster for why the West Midlands should become home to C4’s planned new national HQ as part of its 4 All the UK strategy.
The bid is focused on potential sites including locations in the Greater Birmingham and Solihull area.
The West Midlands is in the midst of a cultural and creative renaissance, illustrated by the presence of BBC Three in The Mailbox, Birmingham’s successful bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Coventry being awarded UK City of Culture 2021 and the proposed development of major film studios in the city region.
Anita Bhalla OBE, Board Director for Creative Industries at GBSLEP, welcomed the news:
The opportunity to bring Channel 4 to this region is hugely exciting for us and for the broadcaster. There is so much on offer for creative and digital companies, with a strong supply chain of independent media companies and major names already located here. The Greater Birmingham and Solihull area alone has over 31,000 people employed in the creative industries, so it makes perfect sense for Channel 4 to take advantage of this incredibly talented group of people.
“We have a young, digitally connected and diverse population who would relish the chance to work with Channel 4 in the region. The fact that we’re in the position to bid for the national headquarters is testament to the teamwork that has gone in across the West Midlands, highlighting the benefits of working in partnerships and having a joined-up approach to major projects.”
C4 is seeking to establish three new hubs outside London, the largest of which will become the national headquarters, consisting of offices, a new studio, a base for daily programmes and a new digital production unit.
The key strapline of the West Midlands’ bid is ‘Get Closer’:
The region’s unparalleled connectedness will enable C4 to: access the broadest pool of talent, ideas and resources, a bigger supply chain and a broader outlook, and to sustain close and genuine links with other key locations and networks while getting closer to those whose stories you want to tell.
We are the most diverse region in the country and we celebrate diversity of opinion. In the West Midlands diversity is all around and C4 can be at the heart of it.
The West Midlands is fertile ground for a new kind of broadcasting pioneered by Channel 4.
The West Midlands is about to go global like no other UK region in history. We’re preparing to host Coventry City of Culture 2021 and the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022.
Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said:
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.”
The Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, commented:
We want Channel 4 here in the West Midlands, benefiting from, and enabling us to deliver, the ongoing change that is transforming this region into the most exciting in the country.
“We already have everything in place to enable C4 to pioneer new content, new platforms and new forms of production to meet and enhance the needs of its audience.”
The bids from all regional contestants were submitted on 11 May 2018, and Channel 4 will shortlist regions by 30 May 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.
The bid to bring Channel 4 to the region has been supported by a number of major media players.
Adil Ray OBE, actor, writer & broadcaster said:
“I owe my career to Birmingham. The city allowed me to turn my dreams into reality.
“There are many more young storytellers right here in one of Europe’s youngest and most diverse cities, a microcosm of the UK.
“It’s almost impossible to imagine Channel 4, with its quest to be reflective and relevant, not making Brum its new home.”
Alex Fraser, chief creative at leading independent production company 7Wonder, said:
“There’s a creative renaissance going on here and a proper media community emerging.
“With indies such as 7Wonder, Full Fat, Maverick, North One, Optomen and broadcasters including BBC Drama and BBC3, Channel 4 would be really welcome here in the centre of the UK.”