BBC Four to become home of archive content in cost-cutting move

The channel will no longer commission new programmes, according to the BBC's Annual Plan Report.

BBC Four

The BBC has announced plans to make BBC Four the home of archive content, with the channel no longer set to commission new programmes.

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The move was revealed in the corporation’s Annual Plan Report for 2021/22 as the latest cost-cutting initiative put into place by the broadcaster, which aims to significantly reduce its costs before 2022.

According to the report, the channel will be shifting away from commissioning a high volume of lower-cost programmes as they are “less effective at reaching audiences on the channel and on iPlayer”.

It said “BBC Four will become the home of the most distinctive content from across the BBC’s archive” and added that the channel would also continue to broadcast live performances as part of 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,” the report continued.

Since it was launched in 2002, BBC Four has been the originator of a wealth of programming across drama, arts and documentaries, in addition to broadcasting a number of overseas acquisitions.

Several hit shows have debuted on the channel, including political satire The Thick of It, Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe, Mackenzie Crook’s sitcom Detectorists, and popular quiz show Only Connect, with many of them subsequently moving to BBC Two.

The news follows the announcement earlier this month that BBC Three will return as a linear channel next year, and those plans are outlined further in the report, which states that it aims to broadcast from 7pm to 4am every day.

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