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City not disheartened after Channel 4 snubs its ‘creative hub’ bid

Channel 4 headquarters in Horseferry Road, London Photo: PA

Channel 4 headquarters in Horseferry Road, London Photo: PA

PA Archive/PA Images

Channel 4’s choice to omit the East of England from the shortlist for new regional hubs has been labelled “worrying” by those behind Norwich’s bid for the title.

The fine city was snubbed in its bid to be the base of a new creative hub for the broadcaster, losing out to competitors including Brighton and Stoke-on-Trent.

Political, business and academic leaders in Norwich helped write the submission, which underscored its rich literary scene as England’s only UNESCO city of literature and home to the National Writing Centre, as well as its established base of TV and media companies.

But a spokesman for those involved said the setback would not stop the city striving for a greater presence on the national media stage and more regional investment from big players.

They said: “We put in a very strong collaborative pitch so we’re surprised and disappointed that the city wasn’t shortlisted and we’ll be asking for feedback as a result.

“It’s especially worrying to see that the east of England has missed out.

“But this will not stop us from doing some of the things we said we would in our bid.

“We want to encourage established and new digital production companies to make Norwich their home and encourage Channel 4 to maximise regional spend on commissioning.

“In the coming weeks we will work with our partners to help realise these ambitions.”

Prof John Last, vice chancellor at Norwich University of the Arts, which assisted in the bid, said: “There’s no doubt that the talent, ambition and skills exist in Norwich to serve as a creative hub for any broadcaster, as is clearly demonstrated by our regional BBC and ITV teams. So it’s disappointing that Norwich – indeed the whole Eastern region – has been overlooked by Channel 4.

“But we’re confident that our regional broadcasters and the wealth of independent film and television production companies in and around Norwich will continue to thrive.”

Channel 4 announced its shortlists of cities for its second headquarters and two creative hubs on Wednesday after receiving more than 30 submissions overall.

Belfast, Brighton, Newcastle-Gateshead, Nottingham, Sheffield and Stoke-on-Trent are listed for creative hub only, while Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Greater Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, and the West Midlands are in the running for national headquarters or creative hub.

The project, required by the government to widen Channel 4’s operations outside London, will see 300 of its 800 staff move out of the capital.

Channel 4’s chief commercial officer Jonathan Allan, who is leading the pitch process, said: “We’ve been incredibly impressed both by the number of pitches we received and by the high quality of the submissions – which has underlined the huge amount of creativity, innovation and talent right across the UK.”

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