The BBC’s director of strategy James Purnell has denied claims that BBC4 is set for the same fate as its digital stablemate BBC3, following the publication of a report that says the Corporation must make annual savings of £400 million.
“We don’t want to close BBC4,” he said, speaking on the Today programme.
“What we’re doing is making efficiency savings, and what we’ve published today is a document that shows that over the last few years we’ve saved about £1.1 billion of our costs. By the end of this charter period, in two years’ time, that’ll be £1.5 billion – that’s nearly half of the costs that we control at the BBC.”
The report by the BBC says that it needs to save an extra £400 million a year in order to meet financial targets set by the government for the end of its Charter, which is due for renewal in 2016. However, it warns that the next round of cuts will be to the detriment of programmes and services.
In March it was announced that youth-focused digital channel BBC3 would move online, and would only be accessible via the streaming service BBC iPlayer, at a saving of £50 million. A petition calling on the Corporation to revoke this decision has gathered 265,000 signatures, and a Save BBC3 campaign is supported by a raft of celebrities including Stephen Fry, David Walliams and Jack Whitehall.
The BBC’s report comes as it prepares to negotiate with the government for the renewal of the Charter, which sets the level of the TV licence fee. Since 2010 the annual cost for licence fee payers has been £145.50, which works out at 40p a day.