Channel 4 will not consider the possibility of a second referendum on Scottish independence when deciding where to relocate, after Glasgow was included in a seven-strong shortlist to host the broadcaster’s new headquarters.
Glasgow will compete against Bristol, Cardiff, Greater Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and the West Midlands to secure the Channel 4 HQ and 300 new jobs, following a UK Government requirement for the broadcaster to move outside of London.
Despite the Scottish Government seeking to restart the debate around another independence referendum, Glasgow’s bid will not be disadvantaged by constitutional uncertainty, and will be considered based on existing situation, Channel 4 indicated.
Concerns about the risk of a new independence campaign in the next few years impacting Glasgow’s bid have been discussed at the highest level in the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, the Scotsman understands.
Conservative shadow culture secretary Rachael Hamilton said it would be “utterly inexcusable” for constitutional debate to damage Glasgow’s chances.
“We’ve seen already the damage the SNP has caused by constantly casting doubt over Scotland’s future,” she said. “Agitating for another referendum only makes it harder for new businesses to come to Scotland, and indeed for those already here to remain.”
Channel 4’s chief commercial officer, Jonathan Allen said the broadcaster had been “incredibly impressed” by the quality of the pitches it received.
Over the summer, candidate cities will give detailed presentations to Channel 4 executives involved in the selection process, who will visit each location. The final result will be announced on 1 October.
Nicola Sturgeon tweeted to welcome the “brilliant” news, and Scottish Secretary David Mundell posted to say he was “right behind the bid”.
Broadcaster Stuart Cosgrove, who is leading the Glasgow bid, wrote on Twitter that his team was “taking nothing for granted but we are up for the cup”.
Mr Cosgrove added: “We’re delighted that Channel 4 gets Glasgow and what the city has to offer. I’m looking forward to showing them much more over the summer.
“This is a young, educated, diverse city that is bursting with talent, attitude and potential. It is a real privilege to have the job of putting all of that in front of Channel 4. I think they’ll love it.”
More than 30 cities and regions submitted bids for the shortlisting process. Another six locations are in the running to host regional ‘creative hubs’ that will share £350m worth of new investment from Channel 4 as it shifts more of its work outside London.