BBC Four budget slashed – will focus on archive programming

It's being repositioned as an archive channel

BBC Four will be repositioned as an archive channel with minimal new original content except for live performance broadcasts.

The move is part of a cost-cutting drive across the BBC, which the corporation set five years ago with a target saving of £800m a year by March 2022.

BBC Four will become the “home” of archived content but will continue to broadcast performances such as the BBC Proms, BBC Young Dancer and BBC Young Musician. “The proposed changes to BBC Four will build on the channel’s current archive content offer, which already comprises 76 per cent of BBC Four’s broadcast hours and 69 per cent of the channel’s broadcast viewing hours,” a section of its annual report read.

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The channel was responsible for launching acclaimed shows such as Charlie Brooker’s Wipe franchise, the Emmy-nominated drama Burton & Taylor and the Bafta-winning comedy Detectorists.

Publishing its annual plan for 2021-22, the corporation said the channel would “become the home of the most distinctive content from across the BBC’s archive” [via The Guardian].

It revealed that the BBC had achieved £880m of annual recurring savings since 2016-17, which means it beat that target a year ahead of schedule. Annual savings are now expected to rise above £950m by March 2022.

Despite this, the BBC added that more severe cuts are due and “further savings will involve difficult choices that will impact programmes and services”.

Earlier this month the corporation announced that BBC Three would return as a broadcast channel six years after it moved online to BBC iPlayer.

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Last year, BBC research concluded there was a “strong case” for BBC Three to return to broadcast TV with a focus on younger audiences. The BBC’s chief content officer Charlotte Moore said in a statement that the corporation “needs to back success and make sure its programmes reach as many young people as possible wherever they live in the UK”.

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