The BBC have confirmed that their fourth-string channel will be stepping away from comedy and drama programmes such as Getting On, The Road To Coronation Street and Ernie and Eric (all of which won them BAFTAs last month..) in the months ahead. The corporation have reportedly decided to make the channel an arts based network in a bid to go head-to-head with Sky Arts.
The proposal is part of BBC director general Mark Thompson’s Delivering Quality First (DQF) initiative, designed to help slash the corporation’s budget by 20% reports Media Guardian. BBC4 currently holds just 1% of the British audience share despite having a budget of £55 million.
Richard Klein, the BBC Four controller, used a report to claim that BBC4 was to be “British television’s most intellectually and culturally enriching channel, offering an ambitious range of UK and international arts, music and culture”.
Over the next 12 months, Klein said that BBC Four would become “the gold card channel for arts and culture, approaching subject matter at a level of depth, detail and authority second to none”.
However the Beeb seemed unwilling to bill the channel as a direct competitor with Sky Arts and various dramas are still in the pipeline at BBC4, including a film about the photographer David Bailey, titled We’ll Take Manhattan, and a two-part adaptation of Charles Dickens’s unfinished novel, Edwin Drood.
A BBC spokesman added: “We are not going to get drawn into a running commentary [on the DQF process] – no decisions have been taken and therefore these claims remain speculation. Any decisions coming out of the process would be subject to approval by the BBC Trust.”