BBC4 presenters including Lucy Worsley, Waldemar Januszczak and Dr James Fox have taken to social media amidst widespread rumours that the culture channel could stop broadcasting on television by the end of the year.
The presenters are rallying to save the arts and culture channel which is said to be facing closure as the corporation looks to invest in more youth programming and find ways to reduce its costs.
The BBC is facing a £125m gap in its finances as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the corporation to delay a move to end free licences for UK residents over 75.
It is thought that BBC4 could be a target for closure as its arts and history content plays to a niche audience. However, the channel has also made foreign-language drama accessible to millions of viewers and has spawned the hit comedy The Thick of It, which satirises the inner workings of British government.
Oxford historian Dr Janina Ramirez has joined forces with her fellow presenters and has urged BBC4 viewers to rally around the channel. Dr Ramirez called it “the most amazing channel, unlike any other.”
BBC4, which currently has an annual budget of £44 million, attracts a smaller audience of mostly older viewers to its programming schedule. The broadcaster has made it clear that one of its key objectives is to pursue younger audiences, who are increasingly moving away from the BBC in favour of its rivals such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Apple TV.
Speculation was stepped up earlier this month at the announcement that Cassian Harrison, BBC4’s long-serving controller, will be placed on a nine-month attachment to BBC Studios, the corporation’s commercial arm.
The fate of BBC4’s future could be confirmed by a new BBC Director-General, with Tony Hall’s replacement set to be announced in June.