This success follows the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) making a formal bid to bring Channel 4 (C4) to the region earlier in May. The bid focused on potential sites in Birmingham and Coventry, highlighting the many strengths of the West Midlands under the strapline of ‘Get Closer’.
The WMCA bid had received wide ranging support from stakeholders, major media players, creative organisations and local businesses, as the West Midlands united to demonstrate the wealth of innovation, talent and ambition that exists across the region.
The Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “This was the first hurdle we needed to overcome in order to secure the new national HQ for Channel 4 and now we can focus on enhancing our bid further.
“Both Birmingham and Coventry offer powerful arguments to Channel 4 in terms of location, talent and the youth and diversity of the population and I am pleased this has been recognised. Now the hard work really starts as we begin negotiations in earnest to develop the most compelling case possible to the broadcaster.”
Cllr George Duggins, Leader of Coventry City Council, said: “We are delighted that our bid has been shortlisted and we are a step nearer to welcoming Channel 4 to Coventry.
“It is great to see that Channel 4 recognises the combination of factors that make Coventry and the West Midlands the perfect place for businesses looking to relocate and build for the future.
“Our city offers unrivalled transport links, a young, diverse population and a reputation for design and innovation – and we are, of course, UK City of Culture 2021, which will put Coventry well and truly in the national spotlight and build a legacy for years to come.
“We will now work with partners and other organisations around the city and region to strengthen our bid and put forward as strong a case as possible, so we can be named the broadcaster’s new HQ when the decision is made later this year.”
Cllr Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council, said: "We welcome the news that Birmingham’s bid to become the new home of Channel 4 has been shortlisted. Birmingham is a perfect fit for this move and we look forward to working with Channel 4 to showcase in even greater detail what we have to offer here in the heart of the UK.
“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, Birmingham is the natural choice for Channel 4.”
There will be now a period of further consultation, which will see the WMCA work in partnership with Channel 4 to highlight the benefits of moving to the West Midlands. The final announcement is expected at the end of 2018, with the broadcaster moving to the new HQ in 2019.
C4 is seeking to establish three new creative hubs outside London, as part of its '4 All the UK' strategy. The largest of these hubs will become the national headquarters, consisting of offices, a new studio, a base for daily programmes and a new digital production unit. The WMCA is confident that C4 will recognise that the West Midlands is the ideal choice as it looks to improve its representation across the nation.
The WMCA bid was based around the key strapline ‘Get Closer’:
Get closer to the whole of the UK. 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.
Get closer to your audience. We are the most diverse region in the country (47% BAME population in Birmingham and 34% in Coventry), and we celebrate diversity of opinion. In the West Midlands diversity is all around and C4 can be at the heart of it.
Get closer to your future. The West Midlands is fertile ground for a new kind of broadcasting pioneered by Channel 4.
Get closer to the world. 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.
The WMCA bid was strongly supported by the three Local Enterprise Partnerships, which are non-constituent members.
Tim Pile, Chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, commented:
“It is hugely exciting news that Channel 4 has shortlisted the West Midlands for its national headquarters. This is a clear sign of confidence in the region, its businesses and people by a major broadcaster and employer.
“Organisations across the West Midlands are harnessing the power of working together to maximise the region’s potential. GBSLEP has supported the region’s Channel 4 bid for some time – and we will continue to collaborate with our partners throughout this process, to ensure that the West Midlands has the best possible chance of becoming Channel 4’s new home.”
Sarah Windrum, CWLEP Board Director, said: “Channel 4 should come to the West Midlands because it is all about them getting closer to their audience – and we are well placed to get closer to the whole of the UK. We are at the heart of the transport connectivity network and our population is young and diverse.
“There are some very interesting conversations happening in the region of which Channel 4 can be a part, and we have wide diversity of thought around content creation and input, which would be mutually beneficial.
“We have Coventry as UK City of Culture in 2021, Birmingham hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2022 and who knows what will be coming next – it would be great for Channel 4 to be at the centre of all that is happening in the region.”
Sarah Middleton, Chief Executive Black Country Consortium, said: “The announcement that Channel 4 has shortlisted the West Midlands bid to host the national HQ is testament to the talent and infrastructure that exists in the region.
“This news is just the latest development, which evidences how the West Midlands is reasserting its position as an economic powerhouse able to compete on a domestic, European and global level. The Black Country is a key part of this recent growth and we look forward to having Channel 4 on our doorstep as we look to the future.”