The BBC is facing a budget cut in real terms as the corporation is prevented from raising the license fee to match inflation and has also had the funding of the World Service thrust upon them – a service previously funded by the UK Foreign Office. This had meant some tough decisions as something has to give – they are moving many of the corporations functions up to Salford, and some staff are facing redundancies – but some services need to be cut as well.
Auntie has recently agreed the sale of some of its magazine titles, and had previously flirted with the idea of shutting the digital radio station 6Music but there was a considerable public backlash that forced them to reconsider. Now they are pushing for the closure of the digital television channel BBC Four. The closure of services is always hard, but again the BBC seems to be trying to close its services that best fulfil what the BBC is designed to do. 6Music helps nurture new bands, giving them an outlet that cannot be found on commercial radio – and giving many that first step towards getting that elusive record deal. Similarly BBC Four offers thoughtful documentaries and varied drama that would simply not fit in elsewhere on the TV schedule. It is consistently successful in opening minds and hearts to the wonders around them with its actual content – but also with dramas such as the recent hit from Norway The Killing. There is no way another of the other channels could have bought such a show, but on BBC Four it has thrived with accolades from critics and the public alike. The French drama Spiral was another foreign hit that offered the British public to look beyond their fear of subtitles – opening our eyes to a wealth of international television and cinema. And don;t forget Mad Men, a show which found its audience on BBC Four before being poached by Sky Atlantic.
But the channel has also been a testing bed for comedies such as the wonderful The Thick Of It – as it offers these shows a platform where an idea considered to be relatively niche can gain a cult following, possibly allowing them to graduate to BBC1 or BBC2. Across the board, BBC Four has had success after success and all on a tiny budget when compared with the other BBC offerings. If the British public want to have the choice of obscure but fascinating documentaries, and television made for more than the lowest common denominator in shows like the X Factor, then BBC Four needs our support. And it needs it now.
If you would like to show your support for BBC Four then please head over and sign the petition, follow @savebbcfour on Twitter, watch the #savebbc4 hashtag, but most importantly watch the channel and make some noise about the shows you enjoy.