The fate of BBC Four has been up in the air for a while now, with persistent rumours that the channel will be axed to help the Beeb save money - much to the dismay of a lot of people who like watching all those niche arts programmes, documentaries, and other bits that don't quite fit on BBCs One to Three. Well now changes are coming, and while BBC Four isn't being axed per se, it's going through some major changes that do basically the same thing.
According to the BBC's annual plan, BBC Four will bring together "collections of the most distinctive content from the BBC’s rich archive." In other words, it's going to be turned into a channel of repeats like Gold, Dave, or those other UKTV channels that the BBC has wholly owned since last June. But there's still going to be an emphasis on arts, at least in the meantime.
Stuff that would normally have been commissioned for BBC Four is now heading to BBC Two, thanks to "a renewed focus on premium and distinctive factual content." Though specifically this will be involving "the best of BBC Four's originations", which basically means the best of the best and not just every programme that wound up on the channel.
Long term, the BBC says it's exploring "potential commercial opportunities for BBC Four to become a new global subscription service". So potentially a bit like BritBox, just without ITV and Channel 4 being involved, and focusing on the BBC's "strengths in specialist factual".
So not an entertainment channel, in other words, and also only available outside the UK. For now we're still paying the TV Licence for all that content. [BBC]