BBC announced that its BBC Four channel will cease commissioning new programmes and become an archive-focused network as part of the ongoing significant cost-cutting drive across the corporation.
BBC announced that its BBC Four channel will cease commissioning new programmes and become an archive-focused network as part of the ongoing significant cost-cutting drive across the corporation, The Guardian reported. While it is not being shut down altogether, BBC Four will now be repositioned as the “home” of archived content, although it will continue to broadcast performances such as the BBC Proms, BBC Young Dancer and BBC Young Musician.
“The channel will become the home of the most distinctive content from across the BBC’s archive. The proposed changes to BBC Four will build on the channel’s current archive content offer, which already comprises 76% of BBC Four’s broadcast hours and 69% of the channel’s broadcast viewing hours,” the company confirmed in its annual plan for 2021-22.
This is the latest in a long line of cuts being made across the company, which five years ago set itself a target of saving £800 million a year by March 2022. The annual plan revealed the BBC had delivered £880 million of annual recurring savings since 2016-17, beating that target a year ahead of schedule. But while its annual savings are expected to rise above £950 million by March next year, the BBC said the hardest cuts are yet to come and “further savings will involve difficult choices that will impact programmes and services”.
The report also contained further details about the return of BBC Three as a linear television channel next year. The channel ceased operations in 2016 and was replaced by an online-only version available via the iPlayer, but this is due to be reversed. According to the annual plan, BBC Three will broadcast from 7 PM to 4 AM daily subject to regulatory approval once it returns to television screens.
Demand for the BBC has soared during the coronavirus pandemic, with the annual plan also revealing that 90% of UK adults used the broadcaster’s services each week, and a record 33 million people visited its online services every week, including iPlayer.