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Beeb’s rechanneling

Pubcaster wants to shift highbrow shows to digital webs

LONDON — In the wake of a major review of its resources, the BBC is likely to add BBC3 and BBC4 to its existing two core TV channels.

The two channels would go out next year on digital platforms and replace the supplementary digital webs BBC Choice and BBC Knowledge, respectively, providing more alternative and highbrow programming.

It is also possible that some of the remaining serious news and arts series on BBC1 will be relocated to slots on BBC2 and BBC4, so that the main channel can focus more on entertainment. BBC3 will target a youth audience with offbeat, MTV-style programming.

Highbrow ghetto?

The plans have raised concerns among government ministers, who fear that serious public service broadcasting would be ghettoized by a genre-based approach to dividing programs among the channels.

The changes, which will require government approval and may also involve public consultation, could meet with opposition if it is thought that the BBC is abandoning mixed scheduling and departing too far from its public service responsibilities.

Speculative budget figures for the channels are £50 million ($75 million) for BBC4 and $138 million for BBC3. BBC director general Greg Dyke is likely to discuss the plans when he delivers the MacTaggart lecture later this month at the Edinburgh Intl. TV Festival.