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BBC loses Great British Bake Off, as Channel 4 swoops for Britain's biggest show

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 13/09/2016 By Patrick Foster, Media Correspondent

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Channel 4 has stolen the Great British Bake Off from the BBC, after the corporation refused to pay £25 million a year to hold on to the hit baking show.

Love Productions, the company behind Bake Off, announced yesterday afternoon that it would withdraw the programme from the BBC at the end of the current series, having failed to seal a new deal after “more than a year of exhaustive negotiations”.

Two hours later, Channel 4 announced that it had agreed a three-year deal for Bake Off, after programme-makers insisted that they wanted to remain on free-to-air television.

The commercial broadcaster is said to have paid around £25 million a year for the contract, which will involve up to 40 hours of programming each year, including a variety of professional and celebrity specials.

It is understood that the BBC was told it would need to pay £25 million a year to hold on to Bake Off, a fourfold increase on its existing deal. The corporation offered to double its current payment to around £12.5 million. 

In a statement last night, Channel 4 said that it would air a celebrity version of the show in 2017, in aid of Stand up to Cancer.

The BBC is understood to have a one year "holdback" clause that prevents its rival from airing the standard version of the baking show for a year after the current series ends.

However, programme-makers are said to believe that the corporation will bow to public pressure and allow Channel 4 to air the show before the clause expires.

It was not clear last night whether any of Bake Off’s popular presenters will move with show. Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, as well as hosts Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, have all previously expressed a desire to stay with the BBC.

Perkins last night used her Twitter profile to share a BBC statement in which the corporation said that Bake Off was a "quintessentially BBC programme".

The loss of Bake Off comes after ITV stole the Voice, the Saturday night talent show, from the corporation.

The government is expected to publish a draft Royal Charter on the future of the BBC on Friday, which contains measures to stop the corporation unfairly damaging its commercial rivals.

Jay Hunt, chief creative officer of Channel 4, said: “Channel 4 is very proud to be the new home for The Great British Bake Off.  I’m delighted we have been able to partner with the hugely talented team at Love Productions to keep this much loved show on free-to-air television.”Having lost the biggest show on television, the broadcaster is likely to claim that it does not need constraining.

Richard McKerrow, the creative director of Love Productions, said: “We believe we’ve found the perfect new home for Bake Off.  It’s a public service, free-to-air broadcaster for whom Love Productions have produced high quality and highly successful programmes for more than a decade.

“It’s tremendously exciting to have found a broadcaster who we know will protect and nurture The Great British Bake Off for many years to come.“

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