BBC Trust hints at BBC4 closure

RTS: The BBC has given its strongest indication yet that BBC4 will be closed as part of its cost cutting measures.

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Lord Chris Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust, suggested at the Royal Television Society’s convention in Cambridge that BBC4 would change to reflect the current “straitened” times”.

He said: “At the end of the day when we come forward with our proposals, the role of digital channels will be explained in a way that makes sense in the slightly straitened circumstances we are in these days.”

It has previously been suggested that BBC4 management may be merged with BBC2 as part of the corporation’s cost cutting exercises.

When asked about the digital campaign groups set up by BBC4 fans rallying to save the channel from its predicted closure, that was first suggested last year, Patten said: “I think it might be sensible for people to hang about before they sign petitions until they see what proposals we’ve got.”

Patten also suggested that the BBC’s foreign journalism bureaus may also face closure.

He said: “I think we can gain a great deal by integrating World Service journalists into the machine – I hope it won’t undermine our grasp around the world.”

Earlier this week the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the BBC could be included in Ofcom’s review of news provision in the UK, to see whether thresholds should be put in place to prevent one organisation becoming too dominant.

Patten was speaking ahead of announcing the BBC’s proposals for its “Delivering Quality First” cost cutting programme, which is due to be revealed in October.

The BBC needs to make a 16% cut in operating cuts to reflect last year’s licence fee settlement with the government.
“If we are going to focus on our strengths, then some luxuries we’ll have to give up,” he said.

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