BBC Four to remain 'a jewel' in new complementary role

The BBC's collection of television and radio channels still could be reduced in the future, Mark Thompson has warned.

Although all have been spared for the time being, some could be axed further down the line, he told a press conference after today's DQF announcements.

mark thompson

'We don't need to revisit this question any time soon,' he assured, 'but as non-linear services grow and with [the launch next year of] YouView, it would be reasonable to ask, in a few years, whether we still need the same portfolio of channels.'

Asked whether it was a mistake to have expanded 'so far into the digital space', Thompson said he didn't believe that was the case but that in the years ahead 'depth' of content would become increasingly important.

'Concentrating our investments in outstanding programmes is the next logical step - not just for us but for other broadcasters.'

Strong characters

Meanwhile, the proposal to 'pair up' the main TV channels - BBC Three complementing BBC One and BBC Four complementing BBC Two - was in tune with what had already happened in radio with the renaming of BBC 7 to Radio 4 Extra, he explained.

'There will be no line management roles between the different TV channels and each will continue to have strong characters of their own,' he added.

And he promised that BBC Four would remain 'a jewel' for the corporation and that the ambition was still for it to be 'the most serious and intellectually creative channel in the world'.

One plan under consideration was to broadcast every single BBC Prom on television as well as radio, Thompson said.

Regret at job losses

He would not be drawn, however, on what the future might hold for the BBC's Orchestras and other performing groups.

He told journalists he regretted having to announce the loss of 2000 posts in various areas of the organisation, but added that given the current economic realities it would go against the grain for the BBC to escape cutbacks.

'Asking to be excused would be odd,' he said.

He also revealed that there had been 'a great deal of interest' in the sale of Television Centre. 'We have begun to talk to prospective purchasers but we're at a very early stage and we're nowhere near a shortlist let alone a preferred bidder,' he said.

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