BBC4 to no longer commission new content. Key music doc channel to be repeats only‘Do you want to make tea for the BBC?’ The Clash famously sang in the punk wars…now it looks like you will have to bring your own tea bags if you want to make any culture content under the new regime that is crushing life out of the media channel and sending music and culture lovers to seek new content online.

BBC4 will no longer commission new documentary series as the arts and culture channel is downgraded to a repeats-led network. The channel, that had been home to many groundbreaking music documentaries in the past few years,  and has developed a strong reputation for music, science and history series since its inception in 2002.

That dreaded word, ‘Executives’ have decided that its relatively small audience, older than the national average at 62, does not justify continued investment in commissions. Instead the station will become the “home of the most distinctive content from across the BBC’s archive”, broadcasting repeats for the vast majority of its schedule.

This leaves very little space for the kind of cultural content the BBC used to be famous for.

Previous articleCheckerboard Floors: Music You Dance To – EP review
Next articleMarva Von Theo: Afterglow – album review
Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. This is yet another symptom of cuts caused by austerity and Tory government. BBC4 has been at the forefront of brilliant, and quality documentaries about arts and culture, such a shame. Seems a bit ageist too!

    • The bbc is funded by licence payers ? Not the government.

      You need to look at the changing demographics, new technologies, availability of high quality streaming services if blaming someone makes you feel better about stuff.

      Unfortunately a minority of real music lovers won’t pay the bills anymore.

      • True that the public fund it but we don’t have any say in content or commissions for any of its services.

        The current chairman is Richard Sharp whose deep pockets have been a benefit for Boris, Priti Patel and to the conservatives with massive donations. The arts and culture are completely barren within torys – not interested at all in terms of funding for either public or education sectors despite it being a major factor in the live / night economy. Not to mention the constant cuts within state schools by May during her time as PM…

  2. But another series of Strictly is a certainty…With decisions like this I can safely say apart from 6music (that was close to getting canned a few years ago) the BBC holds no appeal or interest for me any longer.

  3. Ok the campaign to reverse this decision starts here, if we don’t speak out they will get away with it. they are there for US, they need reminding of that.

  4. 62? I’m 44, and i thoroughly enjoy the new music, history and science documentaries that have been a mainstay of bbc4. The BBC is for everyone of all ages, and they should make new programming accordingly.

  5. Shameful decision by the BBC, they are abandoning their principles- all the wonderful talents that have made the Channel so entertaining will now be lost to the BBC as no new talent will get the chance, first BBC 3 and now BBC4, what next !!!

  6. It’s the channel I look at first for what’s on. Storyville and the music docs being a big draw.

    I’m not surprised by this though tbh. The dearth of new docs was already noticeable.
    Sad to say but I’m at least pleased that Sky Arts is on Freeview (Murdoch be damned all the same)

  7. The BBC is dying. It has been for many years. Its a shame as Radio 1 after 10pm weeknights Mon to Fri gave me my musical education as a teen and many, many classic shows they’ve made over the decades. But their news dept is irreparably damaged as years of misinformation, truth suppression and blatant lies have tarnished its once seemingly untouchable reputation. And alas they’d rather spend the ever decreasing licence fee income on statues by sex offender Eric Gill (you know… with his sisters and his own daughters too… oh and the family dog) than ‘dispensable’ output for BBC4. Like I say. Shame.

  8. The BBC were once a respected institution. Now they have been taken over by people with a political agenda at odds with the majority of the population. Its a shame but we would be better off without them.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here