BBC Four intends to become global subscription service

Outside the UK, it is exploring potential commercial opportunities

MUMBAI: The BBC is mulling over transforming BBC Four into a global subscription service in view of the ongoing economic adversity caused by the Covid2019 pandemic.

“Outside the UK, we are exploring potential commercial opportunities for BBC Four to become a new global subscription service that takes our strengths in specialist factual to the world stage,” says the 76-page BBC annual plan 2020/21 released on Wednesday.

Signed by chairman David Clementi and director-general Tony Hall, the document says that BBC Four will focus on bringing together collections of the most distinctive content from the BBC’s rich archive. “Arts will continue to be a centrepiece of Four as we carry on showcasing Culture in Quarantine through this period.”

BBC Four intends to broadcast at least 60 hours of factual originated programmes (subject to the impact of Covid2019 on production delivery).

Generational shift

In news, BBC is making a generational shift in what news it covers and how it covers it by putting the audience at the heart of decisions. Its last major transformation in news was 25 years ago when the broadcaster introduced 24-hour rolling news and took the first steps in online news.

“Today, audiences watch less broadcast news and rely more on online services, particularly on mobile. Reflecting this shift, we will move to a ‘story-led’ approach in news – putting the audience at the heart of decisions on what stories we cover and how we cover them. We will select stories not according to what is required for a specific programme, channel or platform, but instead with the needs of all our audiences and platforms in mind,” says the document.

The idea is to maximise the value of the BBC’s news output by using the power of its portfolio to its fullest. “We want to serve audiences with compelling journalism that is engaging, useful and at a time and in a format of their choosing.”

It stresses the need to discover new ways of “storytelling across our digital platforms, including iPlayer and Sounds, to connect with all audiences that use BBC content. We want our best journalism to travel further so that the quality, breadth and accuracy of BBC News can reach more people, more regularly, in more ways.”

The document says that BBC’s new approach to digital storytelling will power the modernisation of the BBC News online offer and news app. Later this year the app will be completely refreshed and rebuilt from the ground up. This will focus on making it more useful and more used, aimed at the mobile generation under 35. “We build on our existing highly successful news app, but made better for a new generation with new ways of navigating in a mobile and always connected world. In an endless sea of mobile offers and user-friendly aggregators like Apple News and Facebook News, BBC News needs to be as intuitive and easy to use than other news providers, and to have a better editorial offer than anybody else. We want the app to be the best place to consume BBC news.”

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