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BBC Publishes Annual Plan

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RW
Robert Williams Founding member
I have just seen this on RTE News website, that BBC Four will be an archive only station - is this correct?

https://www.rte.ie/entertainment/2021/0330/1206992-bbc-four-to-become-archive-channel-only/


As far as I can see, that's just RTE re-reporting what the Media Guardian have reported, which is their interpretation of the BBC's annual plan. But what the plan actually states is:

Quote:
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. Instead, BBC Four will become the home of the most distinctive content from across the
BBC’s archive.


They're shifting away from commissioning original programming for BBC Four, but it doesn't explicitly state that there will be none whatsoever. The use of the words 'high volume' implies to me that there may still be a 'low volume' of original commissions.

So things like The Sky at Night and the TOTP: Story of... documentaries may still survive - as the latter accompany the start of a new year of TOTP repeats on BBC Four, it wouldn't make much sense for them to be on BBC2 (although they have been recently repeating older editions presumably to pad out their schedule).
MI
TheMike
I have just seen this on RTE News website, that BBC Four will be an archive only station - is this correct?

https://www.rte.ie/entertainment/2021/0330/1206992-bbc-four-to-become-archive-channel-only/


As far as I can see, that's just RTE re-reporting what the Media Guardian have reported, which is their interpretation of the BBC's annual plan. But what the plan actually states is:

Quote:
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. Instead, BBC Four will become the home of the most distinctive content from across the
BBC’s archive.


They're shifting away from commissioning original programming for BBC Four, but it doesn't explicitly state that there will be none whatsoever. The use of the words 'high volume' implies to me that there may still be a 'low volume' of original commissions.

So things like The Sky at Night and the TOTP: Story of... documentaries may still survive - as the latter accompany the start of a new year of TOTP repeats on BBC Four, it wouldn't make much sense for them to be on BBC2 (although they have been recently repeating older editions presumably to pad out their schedule).

BBC Media Centre issued a press release last week which outlined the kind of arts and culture shows coming to BBC Two and detailed its new remit to commit to up to eight major arts and music series annually. It also confirmed niche arts output continues on BBC Four, such as The Leeds International Piano Competition in September and a share of BBC Proms coverage.

Commissioning has also changed, with classical music and the arts sitting under factual, and pop music sitting in its own commissioning area.
IN
interestednovice
I agree with what others have said about BBC Four.

It’s probably not the end of any new programmes but I think the BBC are trying to set viewer expectations with these sorts of lines about it being “archive focused”.

Essentially, it’s obvious that the content budget for BBC Four-type content is being cut. It’s also the case that BBC Two has some holes in it’s schedule (partly due to other budget cuts) and would benefit from some of the BBC Four content being shown there.

So the BBC have done the logical thing and moved (you could say promoted) some BBC Four content to BBC Two. This largely leaves only archive content on the channel. However, the BBC does have a massive archive and it makes sense to broadcast something due to the airtime “going spare”, as has been discussed in the context of BBC Three.

It seems to me, then, that we have reached a sensible compromise in the current approach to these channels. BBC Three online never really made sense when the distribution cost to continue broadcasting some linear output would have been minimal.

Where the BBC has created a rod for their own back, however, seems to be with the BBC Scotland channel. There isn’t really space to distribute it, and it is too costly, but now it exists they can’t axe it for political reasons. Equally, it means programmes lose prominence in practical terms because they aren’t being broadcast on BBC One or BBC Two - and they have created a headache for themselves by getting rid of BBC Two Scotland.

I still can’t see the channel lasting long term, but I can’t imagine how the BBC could ever axe it. Maybe they could merge it with BBC Alba and, at the same time, bring back BBC Two Scotland (which might allow them to spin it as an expansion of services for Scotland)?
Last edited by interestednovice on 31 March 2021 4:45pm - 2 times in total
MarkT76 and Roger Darthwell gave kudos
RD
Roger Darthwell
I agree with what others have said about BBC Four.

It’s probably not the end of any new programmes but I think the BBC are trying to set viewer expectations with these sorts of lines about it being “archive focused”.

Essentially, it’s obvious that the content budget for BBC Four-type content is being cut. It’s also the case that BBC Two has some holes in it’s schedule (partly due to other budget cuts) and would benefit from some of the BBC Four content being shown there.

So the BBC have done the logical thing and moved (you could say promoted) some BBC Four content to BBC Two. This largely leaves only archive content on the channel. However, the BBC does have a massive archive and it makes sense to broadcast something due to the airtime “going spare”, as has been discussed in the context of BBC Three.

It seems to me, then, that we have reached a sensible compromise in the current approach to these channels. BBC Three online never really made sense when the distribution cost to continue broadcasting some linear output would have been minimal.

Where the BBC has created a rod for their own back, however, seems to be with the BBC Scotland channel. There isn’t really space to distribute it, and it is too costly, but now it exists they can’t axe it for political reasons. Equally, it means programmes lose prominence in practical terms because they aren’t being broadcast on BBC One or BBC Two - and they have created a headache for themselves by getting rid of BBC Two Scotland.

I still can’t see the channel lasting long term, but I can’t imagine how the BBC could ever axe it. Maybe they could merge it with BBC Alba and, at the same time, bring back BBC Two Scotland (which might allow them to spin it as an expansion of services for Scotland)?

Great idea, seems to be the best solution
IN
interestednovice
The only potential problem with it might be if questions get raised about why S4C is all in Welsh but BBC Alba Scotland (or whatever) would probably need to be English and Gaelic.

Maybe it could work if most of the programmes have two language tracks?
IS
Inspector Sands
Worth remembering that Alba isn't solely a BBC channel, its part run and funded by MG Alba aka the Gaelic Media Service.
Last edited by Inspector Sands on 31 March 2021 6:40pm
DE88, interestednovice and Roger Darthwell gave kudos
JO
Josh
Worth remembering that Alba isn't solely a BBC channel, its part run and funded by MG Alba aka the Garlic Media Service.

Wasn't aware that the onion species had their own media service.
IS
Inspector Sands
Josh posted:
Worth remembering that Alba isn't solely a BBC channel, its part run and funded by MG Alba aka the Garlic Media Service.

Wasn't aware that the onion species had their own media service.

Damn you got there before I could correct it
RD
Roger Darthwell
Worth remembering that Alba isn't solely a BBC channel, its part run and funded by MG Alba aka the Gaelic Media Service.

A deal can be made with MG Alba (Reminder that S4C used to be a bilingual channel before the digital switchover), and the dual language track suggested by interestednovice seems a great solution, I mean the ARTE channel in France and Germany has dual French and German language audio tracks, so this idea can work for a potential BBC Alba Scotland
Last edited by Roger Darthwell on 31 March 2021 7:00pm

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