Sheffield's Channel 4 bid: The politics

Edward Highfield of City Growth, formerly Creative Sheffield
Edward Highfield of City Growth, formerly Creative Sheffield
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The bid to bring Channel 4 to Sheffield has focused on the creative and digital industries yet backstage, politics are at play.

The broadcaster has finally agreed to open a new national HQ and two new smaller creative hubs in the regions after extensive pushing by the Government.

There has been two years of bitter wrangling between ministers and Channel 4. The broadcaster said up to 80 per cent of its workforce would quit if they were forced to move out of the capital.

Ministers have agreed it can keep its £100m base in London as long as it moves staff to a national HQ in the regions. Channel 4 has insisted its TV advertising sales team remain in London.

Birmingham has been seen as the frontrunner for the HQ. A Conservative government would look favourably on the Tory Mayor there, Andy Street. Mr Street is a former John Lewis boss and has been lobbying har4 for well over a year.

But Sheffield council chiefs are still positive and say the city will play to its strengths.

Edward Highfield, director of City Growth (formerly Creative Sheffield) said: “If I was a Tory minister I would stick Channel 4 in Birmingham where there is a Tory Mayor but Channel 4 are likely to do the exact opposite.

“Originally Channel 4 said relocation completely or partially was not attractive but with a new chief executive and time, they have come to see it as a positive move to access talent and diversity.

“We are not a big, shiny corporation like Birmingham and we have to absolutely play to being an underdog.

“We have a lot of things going for us and it’s really important we try to understand what the Channel 4 ethos and values are and how we reflect that. It’s about taking risks and being bold.”