BBC to axe CBBC and BBC Four as it announces channel closure plans

The BBC logo is seen at the entrance at Broadcasting House, the BBC headquarters in central London.The UK government has announced it will freeze the broadcaster's budget for the next two years and will end the license fee in 2027. (Photo by Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
The BBC has announced channel closures in a new shake-up. (LightRocket via Getty Images) (SOPA Images via Getty Images)

The BBC has announced plans to axe channels including CBBC and BBC Four as it heads towards becoming a "digital first" organisation.

Its popular children's and arts channels will be casualties of the new streamlined corporation plans, along with BBC Radio 4 Extra.

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A single 24-hour rolling news channel for both UK and international audiences has also been announced, which will be called BBC News.

Director-General Tim Davie told staff his plans to modernise the BBC on Thursday, saying: “When I took this job I said that we needed to fight for something important: public service content and services, freely available universally, for the good of all.

“This fight is intensifying, the stakes are high.”

CBBC logo
CBBC will be axed in the new plans. (BBC)

He also announced that up to 200 hours of content could be cut in the shake-up and that there would be around 1,000 job roles lost in the public-funded part of the BBC.

Davie plans to refocus on iPlayer with the aim of 75% of BBC viewers being reached through the streaming service each week, ploughing 'significant amounts of money" into new programmes for iPlayer.

He will be calling upon Ofcom to remove regulatory restrictions so that iPlayer's offering of box sets and archive content can be expanded.

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The cuts to channels and concentration on digital content is expected to make £500m of savings and reinvestment, with £200m contributing to the £285m annual funding gap by 2027/28, created by the licence fee settlement earlier this year.

The BBC logo is seen at BBC Broadcasting House on January 17, 2022 in London, England. Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has hinted that the Government will shortly reveal plans to abolish the licence fee in 2027, with the funding frozen for the next two years. Unlike other subscription services, the BBC faces a number of challenges, including finding a way to charge users, while continuing to provide-free-to-air content over its multiple radio stations. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
The BBC is planning a digital-first future. (Getty Images) (Leon Neal via Getty Images)

The remaining funding gap will be covered in the final three years of this Charter period, and the BBC will also reinvest £300m to drive a digital-first approach.

Local news will shift resources to more investment in digital coverage, while the savings made through streamlining broadcast news locally, nationally and internationally will be reinvested in video and digital news.

Davie added: "This is our moment to build a digital-first BBC. Something genuinely new, a Reithian organisation for the digital age, a positive force for the UK and the world.

BBC director-general Tim Davie giving evidence to the Communications and Digital Committee in the House of Lords, London as part of its inquiry into the future funding of the broadcaster. Picture date: Monday May 23, 2022.
BBC director-general Tim Davie has unveiled radical new plans for the corporation. (PA) (PA)

“Independent, impartial, constantly innovating and serving all. A fresh, new, global digital media organisation which has never been seen before. Driven by the desire to make life and society better for our licence fee payers and customers in every corner of the UK and beyond.

"They want us to keep the BBC relevant and fight for something that in 2022 is more important than ever. To do that we need to evolve faster and embrace the huge shifts in the market around us."

He continued: "I believe in a public service BBC for all, properly funded, relevant for everyone, universally available, and growing in the on-demand age. This plan sets us on that journey."

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