As part of BBC’s cost cutting exercise, BBC Four is to stop commissioning original programmes and “become the home of the most distinctive content from across the BBC’s archive”. It will however continue to broadcast live performances such as BBC Young Musician and the Proms.
BBC Four originated comedy shows such as Charlie Brooker’s Wipes, the Bafta-winning comedy Detectorists and The Thick of It.
The corporation has slashed its expenditure by almost £900m over the past 5 years however it would seem that the deepest cuts are yet to come, “further savings will involve difficult choices that will impact programmes and services”.
The annual plan revealed the BBC had delivered £880m of annual recurring savings since 2016-17, beating that target a year ahead of schedule.
The corporation announced plans for a 100% increase its arts and music spending on BBC Two, “this approach will necessitate a shift away from commissioning a high volume of lower-cost programmes on BBC Four, which are less effective at reaching audiences on the channel and on iPlayer”.
BBC Four will “become the home of the most distinctive content from across the BBC’s archive”, claimed the report.
Simon Blackwell who worked on The Thick of It said on Twitter, “A great big shame – no Thick Of It without BBC Four, so no In The Loop or Veep either.”
Mark Kermode tweeted “Very proud to have made several series of SECRETS OF CINEMA for BBC4. Genuinely saddened by reports that the channel is now being turned into an “archive service” for cost-cutting reasons.
The BBC in conjunction with ITV already run the subscription service Britbox with hundreds of the corporations comedy shows available to subscribers ( of which it has some 2 million globally). The report added, “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 changes will however require regulatory approval.