Viewers will now pay £159 for the licence fee from this month after originally forking out an annual £157.50. The black and white licences will also be rising from £53.00 to £53.50. This week, the broadcaster also announced that its arts and culture channel, which first launched in 2002, will soon have fewer programmes being commissioned due to cost-cutting measures.
The Defund the BBC campaign group lashed out at the plans as the channel’s viewers are “already under catered for”.
The group said: “The over 50s – ie those still paying the licence fee – are already massively under catered for.”
Other viewers shared their fury at the channel being changed while they were paying more for the service.
One person wrote: “So if they cut BBC 4 will they reduce the licence fee too?”
Another added: “Makes me wonder what we pay our licence fee for?”
A third person said: “Stop paying Gary Lineker such a ridiculous wage for a year and the channel could be funded properly for a month.”
Over the last few days, various BBC Four presenters also shared their “sadness” at the new changes.
Film critic Mark Kermode tweeted: “Very proud to have made several series of Secrets of Cinema for @BBCFour.
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“[Where] will new talent grow? It was the envy of the world. It’s a huge loss.”
Science presenter James Wong later tweeted: “This is really sad.
“In an industry increasingly dominated by depressing reality shows filled with arguments, and 1000 formats seemingly based on the same premise as social media clickbait, BBC4 was like a Frasierian portal to another world to me.”
The BBC also announced in its Annual Plan last week that it would increase the amount spent on arts and music for BBC Two.
But the report said: “This approach will necessitate a shift away from commissioning a high volume of lower cost programmes on BBC Four, which are less effective at reaching audiences on the channel and on iPlayer.
“Instead, BBC Four will become the home of the most distinctive content from across the BBC’s archive.
“It will also remain the home for performance, such as the BBC Proms, BBC Young Dancer and BBC Young Musician.
“The proposed changes to BBC Four will build on the channel’s current archive content offer which already comprises 76 percent of BBC Four’s broadcast hours and 69 percent of the channel’s broadcast viewing hours.”
The report added the BBC is expecting to save more than £950million by March 2022, but also said the hardest cuts are yet to come.
The report said: “Further savings will involve difficult choices that will impact programmes and services.”