Channel 4 has been given two weeks to present a plan for moving part of its business out of London - and potentially to Sheffield - or the Government will take action, according to reports.
A consultation was launched last year on moving the channel out of its headquarters in the capital to another base elsewhere in the UK to boost the number of creative jobs in the regions.
Sheffield is one of a dozen local authorities - including Leeds, York, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham - that have registered an interest in hosting the broadcaster, which has expressed reservations about the move.
Creative Sheffield, the council's economic development arm, is leading the bid and has previously revealed the move could be worth £1.4 billion to the city’s economy over the next 15 years and create thousands of jobs. It has earmarked vacant land near the railway station in Sheaf Square as a potential site for offices, and the broadcaster is also being offered 80,000 sq ft of office space in the nearby Digital Campus on Sheaf Street.
The Financial Times said the channel had been set a deadline of March 12 to outline its proposals and that, if Channel 4 does not agree to move voluntarily, the government will need to pass legislation to force it to do so. The relocation was a Conservative party manifesto pledge.
Birmingham is understood to be the lead bidder. Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands, recently told an audience at a business event that the city would 'get the nod'.
Last summer David Abraham, Channel 4's former chief executive, said the company’s board was 'not obliged to be the cash machine for the latest well-meaning government policy that is drifting along'.
Mr Abraham has now been succeeded by Alex Mahon. “We are discussing with government how we can build on the substantial impact Channel 4 already makes in the nations and regions,” a spokesperson said.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said talks were 'ongoing' and an announcement would be made in the near future.
In January more than 50 filmmakers joined forces to create a video showing off the 'best of Sheffield' as part of the local bid. The video - called 'If Channel 4 was a city' - featured a scene from The Full Monty, an appearance from Michael Palin and part of a performance by Pulp.