The BBC’s director of television Danny Cohen has refused to rule out closing down BBC Four.
It’s been proposed that BBC Three would cease to exist as a broadcast channel and become an online-only proposition from the autumn of 2015 onwards.
Cohen has said that theb future of the documentary-heavy channel, which broadcasts from 7:00PM to 4:00AM every day, could not be guaranteed beyond the next licence fee settlement.
In 2010 the licence fee was frozen for six years, meaning BBC Four could uffer a similar fate as BBC Three and get shunted off the airwaves.
Before the BBC announced its plans to make BBC Three online only, it had broadcast new comedy pilots exclusively on iPlayer before greenlighting the most popular shows for further development. The BBC has already started to premiere BBC Four Storyville documentaries online as well, possibly suggesting that the corporation has similar plans for the channel.
Cohen, a former controller of BBC Three said the decision to shut down the youth-oriented channel was painful, but according to a report in the Guardian, Cohen refused to guarantee its continued survival beyond the next licence fee settlement.
When asked if BBC Four could be safeguarded after budget cuts, Cohen said: “The honest answer is no, I can’t. We don’t know for certain what will happen with BBC4 in the future,” he said.
“The reason we made this change for BBC3 is because we face a series of financial cuts the like of which the BBC has not had to cope with before. In an ideal world we would not be taking BBC3 online in 18 months time, we would probably do it in three or four years time.”
“We will have to see what happens in the future with the licence fee whether we can keep BBC4,” he said.
BBC director general Tony Hall said on Radio 4’s World at One the speed at which it would be closing BBC3 was because of “the financial situation we find ourselves.”
“We’d be taking longer to transfer an audience from a broadcast model to a new model, but the finances make this imperative.”