Channel 4 has pre-empted government intervention by announcing it will relocate its headquarters outside London.
The public broadcaster has agreed to significantly increase the amount it spends making programmes outside the capital and put forward a plan to move more than 300 of its 800 staff out of the capital.
Although it has not yet been decided where the new "national headquarters" will be based, several cities are bidding to host the Googlebox broadcaster, which could result in a cultural renaissance for the lucky city, akin to the BBC's Salford relocation a decade ago.
The national headquarters will be home to a new studio, with the potential to be a base for daily programmes, and a new digital production unit – creating compelling short form digital content targeted at young audiences which reflects the diversity of UK culture and values.
Birmingham is considered to be the favourite location in the event of a wholesale move for the broadcaster, famous for shows such as sitcom Catastrophe and ob doc series One Born Every Minute, with former John Lewis boss Andy Street having lobbied hard to be considered. Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield and Leeds are also thought to be in the running.
Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon said: “As a public service broadcaster with diversity in its DNA, Channel 4 has a unique ability to reflect our society. This is a significant and exciting moment of change for Channel 4 as we evolve to ensure we are best suited to serve all of the UK.
“With this new strategy we will go even further to make sure that people right across the UK are represented on screen and in the make up of our own organisation – and it will also build on what we already do to support creative businesses, jobs and economies in the Nations & Regions.”
The corporation will retain its Horseferry Road office, but will create a new drop-in workspace for use by nations and regions indies and creative companies.
Culture secretary Matt Hancock said: “We have long been committed to Channel 4 moving out of London. I’m delighted Channel 4 have decided, under the strong new leadership of Alex Mahon, to establish the new national HQ outside of London, with 300 jobs, including key creative decision makers, to be based in the regions, rising over time.
"I know that many parts of the UK will be excited to pitch to be the new home of C4. We want all parts of Britain to benefit from our amazing creative industries, and C4’s leadership with a new national HQ outside of London is an important part of building a Britain that works for everyone.”