Channel 4's second HQ to be in Birmingham, Manchester or Leeds

Winner of competition for new base will be announced in the autumn

Birmingham, Greater Manchester and Leeds will compete to become the home of Channel 4’s second headquarters, following a strongly fought competition between local politicians keen to attract high-profile jobs to their region.

The broadcaster has committed to transferring about 300 staff from the 800 working at its Westminster headquarters to new locations outside London as part of a deal with the government designed to avoid leaving the capital altogether.

Birmingham has long been the favourite for the new headquarters and Andy Street, the Conservative mayor of the West Midlands, said the city had a compelling case based on “unrivalled connectivity, the diverse and young nature of our population and the strength of our creative and digital economy”.

Greater Manchester’s representatives said the decision “reflects the area’s established track record as a national broadcasting centre”, while the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership said their bid offered the chance “to harness our youth, celebrate our diversity, embrace our differences, nurture top talent and pioneer new technologies”.

The winner of the competition for the new Channel 4 base will be announced in the autumn. Unsuccessful candidates will be considered as the potential location for two smaller creative hubs, which will focus on commissioning new programmes.

Bristol, Cardiff and Glasgow were separately shortlisted as potential homes for the two hubs, but not for the main headquarters.

Channel 4 executives visited 13 cities and regions before drawing up the shortlist, excluding cities including Sheffield and Newcastle. The timing was potentially awkward for Theresa May, who was holding a cabinet away day in the North East on Monday.

Potential candidates for the HQ were required to have a population of more than 200,000 people, travel time to London of less than three hours and high-quality physical and digital infrastructure.

Joe Anderson, the mayor of Liverpool, expressed disappointment that his city did not make the cut, saying the “big problem was Liverpool not being connected transport-wise”. He criticised the decision not to connect his city directly to the HS2 railway line and said Channel 4’s decision was “disappointing and hypocritical” because they chose “locations where the BBC or ITV are already”.

Channel 4 executives said they were committed to increasing the amount of money spent commissioning programmes from outside London by £250m over the next five years.

“We have again had to take some very difficult decisions on which cities to take forward to the next stage, but we believe the six cities we have selected are best able to deliver against our vision and requirements for the new national HQ and creative hubs,” said Jonathan Allan, Channel 4’s chief commercial officer.

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Jim Waterson Media editor

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