BBC’s Annual Plan Outlines Commissioning Shift for BBC Four


The BBC is set to deliver £880 million ($1.21 billion) of annual savings this year, beating the target of £800 million ($1.1 billion) a year ahead of schedule.

The BBC’s Annual Plan 2021/22 highlights the crucial role the public broadcaster has played in supporting the U.K. throughout the Covid pandemic and outlines what the BBC will deliver across TV, radio and online in the coming year.

Richard Sharp, BBC chairman, said: “This year has shown what a vital role the BBC plays across the U.K.

“We have put plans in place to transform the BBC for the future, we are endeavoring to bring ourselves closer to audiences and we have a huge part to play in the country’s recovery from the pandemic.”

Director-General Tim Davie commented: “There is no doubt that in a turbulent and difficult 12 months we have risen to the challenge of informing, educating and entertaining the whole of the United Kingdom.

“We must use these experiences—our biggest ever education offer, the uninterrupted delivery of trusted news and the amazing efforts to resurrect the production of brilliant TV and radio—to shape what comes next, which is a BBC that delivers for everyone and offers great value.”

The BBC has set out five key principles behind its plans: Getting closer to audiences across the country, through a “bold transformation” to serve the whole U.K., its nations, regions and communities; protecting and nurturing democracy and civil debate by championing impartial news and reflecting all views, opinions and identities across the U.K.; stimulating the U.K.’s creative sector through spreading TV, radio and online production and commissioning across the U.K. and building creative and digital partnerships; providing learning and skills to all through a program of formal and informal learning, career development and apprenticeships; and delivering impact across the world by tackling propaganda and misinformation and reflecting the U.K.’s culture and values.

Over the next 12 months, the BBC is planning to “significantly reshape” its TV offer.

First, and pending regulatory approval, it will relaunch BBC Three as a broadcast TV channel in early 2022. BBC Three’s remit will be expanded to include a pre-watershed content offer also suitable for audiences 13+.

Second, it will take an “ambitious new approach” to expand the reach of arts and music programming on BBC TV and iPlayer. The shift in commissioning will mean more series of scale; doubling the arts and music spend on BBC Two over the next two years; launching eight major arts and music box-set series for iPlayer each year and building the library of arts and music content on iPlayer.

This will mean a shift away from commissioning a high volume of
lower-cost programs on BBC Four, “which are less effective at reaching audiences on the channel and on iPlayer,” the report said. Instead, BBC Four will become the home for content from across the BBC’s archive. It will also remain the home for performance, such as the BBC Proms, BBC Young Dancer and BBC Young Musician. It will continue to showcase arts and music acquisitions and maintain its role in partnering with arts institutions.

Third, the BBC will update its mix of TV programming to appeal more to those who currently watch least BBC TV, including C2DE and Northern
audiences. In particular, it will continue to invest more in BBC Three content, bringing more programming specifically aimed at audiences aged 16 to 34. It will invest in more young-appealing British drama and comedy, entertainment and events.

Fourth, it will further improve iPlayer, making the service feel “even more relevant to each individual” through product development, marketing and targeted curation and continue to make improvements to the user experience. The plan is to bring viewers more box sets of new commissions, returning favorites and classic programs from the archive, and more programs will be available on iPlayer first.

Fifth, the BBC will renew its commitment to a wide range of partnerships across the creative sector. The broadcaster signed a new three-year partnership deal with the National Film and Television School to support new talent through their bases in Glasgow, Leeds, Cardiff and London, strengthening diversity through 20 funded bursaries and providing 60 free training opportunities for small independent producers. It is also renewing its partnership agreements with Northern Ireland Screen and Screen Scotland and establishing a new partnership with Creative Wales as well as with partners in England at a more local level.