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Last Updated: Friday, 30 April, 2004, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
BBC pledges boost for arts shows
There is a commitment to reduce makeover shows in prime time
The BBC has pledged to increase its arts, current affairs and documentaries output during peak times.

BBC Two will feature several new documentary series as part of the corporation's commitment to reduce makeover programmes in peak hours.

"The BBC is listening, learning and responding to licence payers," said acting director general Mark Byford.

The plans were published in the BBC's annual statement of programme policy, setting out its plans for the year.

The statement was drawn up before the publication of last week's Ofcom report, which said audiences wanted more original programming on terrestrial channels.


Viewers questioned also said they wanted less lifestyle and makeover shows during prime time.

BBC One and BBC Two will both increase their respective current affairs output by 10 hours over the next year.

A new arts programme called The Culture Show will air on BBC Two along with a media analysis show on BBC Four.

BBC Radio 2 will relaunch its weekly arts strand and increase the number of hours it dedicates to the arts to more than 100 hours per year.

"The BBC's new approach to Statements of Programme Policy will enable licence payers to judge the BBC's performance with greater clarity," said acting chairman Lord Ryder.

The commitment to future programming will be focussed on five key areas:

  • Informing citizenship
  • Enriching the cultural life of the nation
  • Contributing to education
  • Connecting communities
  • Supporting the UK's role in the world.

BBC governors will report on the corporation's performance against the 2004/5 programme statement in July.

Do you want to see more arts and current affairs programmes on the BBC? What do you think of the mix of programming during peak hours?

Your comments

Great news! I too would like to see more music documentaries in the vein of Rock Family Trees. A good documentary about the history of funk would be awesome!
Ben Piddington, London UK

The longstanding neglect of arts and cultural events outside of London is disgusting
Pol Steele, Edinburgh
The BBC really needs to rethink its approach to the way it covers the arts on both Radio and TV. The longstanding neglect of arts and cultural events outside of London is disgusting. You can see and hear the same event, exhibition or project based in London covered on one TV programme and then again on a Radio programme later in the same day while 100's of events receive no coverage at all. There is creative life outside the south! How about giving us our share of coverage!
Pol Steele, Edinburgh

I welcome this new BBC initiative, but I say go further and be courageous! If you look back through the history of broadcasting most examples of classic programmes were initially controversial or thought not to survive more than a brief airing. Note that most classics are produced by the BBC than by the Independent's, that is because the BBC has less of a problem with making a financial return! I agree with a previous contributor (Yunus Robinson) who says that more science based programmes should be produced (for peak times as well!), Tomorrows World is an example where most people had their only weekly contact with the world of Science and Technology, now it is gone. As for the Arts, make more live music programmes (of all genres) for example transfer BBC2's Jules Holland's 'Later' to prime time BBC1 and demonstrate what quality music is all about.
Gary, Wilmington, Kent

Surely, some more of the superb "Dickens" stories in dress drama would not go amiss on a weekend evening instead of the usual drivel that is normally shown.
Keith Hazzard, Bournemouth, England

I look forward to seeing more music programmes (classical, world music, gigs) return to the mainstream BBC TV channels. Digital channels should enhance choice, not enable the creation of a uniform blandness on BBC1 and BBC2.
Andy Scott, Amersham, UK

As the day for its charter renewal approaches, the BBC suddenly announces a rethink
Robert Sharp, London
The BBC has been telling me for years (either in response to my letters of complaint or via Points of View) that it is never wrong, it has correctly gauged what viewers want and it is not 'dumbing down'. Despite the ever-increasing amounts of undemanding programming, repeats, and football insinuated into every programme, it is not 'dumbing down'. But, as the day for its charter renewal approaches, the BBC suddenly announces a rethink. Coincidence? I think not!
Robert Sharp, London

I already think the BBC's programming is far, far more intelligent than the trash on other channels. So anything that furthers this distinction is welcome.
Tony, UK

How can the British public feel European if the BBC does not show foreign language films on terrestrial TV? Is Italian, Spanish, German and French film worth less than the hours of snooker or darts we see on BBC2? If the UK is to identify with Europe more, it must surely share more culture, and the public here needs to experience things from foreign perspectives as well.
Bela Hartmann, Haslemere, UK

It must be time that the BBC woke up to the present in respect to design and architecture
Ian, UK
What about modern contemporary architecture and design programming e.g. the millennium projects? Why does the BBC only seem to present one foot in the past, restoration, programmes on Wedgwood and antiques? What about a step into the present or future? Britain has a highly regarded reputation in respect of contemporary design and architecture but this is not apparent when watching the BBC. Channel 4 and 5 have both led the way in this regard, the BBC have a lot to learn from them (this obviously should be the other way around). Why not a weekly magazine programme on contemporary architecture and design? It must be time that the BBC woke up to the present in respect to design and architecture.
Ian, UK

I welcome the initiative and would certainly like more documentaries of all kinds. Programs focusing on the arts are also welcome but I recognise that we do not all share similar tastes. In my view there are already enough programs concentrating on popular culture so this means more programs on "difficult" subjects. This will probably lead to low audience share followed by the usual suspects saying that the BBC is elitist and a licence fee is therefore unwarranted. And so the circle continues...
Tony Whitehead, London, UK

Bring back the OU programmes on Saturday mornings
Yunus Robinson, UK
Less arts please and more science programmes! The BBC should do more to inspire the young generation into studying science as a career. It's no great wonder there is a shortage in Maths and Science graduates-especially in teaching! Bring back the OU programmes on Saturday mornings, and improve the quality of science documentaries like 'Horizon' instead of dumbing them down with flash special effects!
Yunus Robinson, UK

No doubt you have heard this before from other viewers, but I have found it increasingly difficult to find programmes with any challenging content on the BBC over the last 5 years or so. Friday and Saturday nights are particularly poor. The BBC is correct to move away from the bland, lightweight giggle fest that characterises the majority of commercial output in the UK. It may improve a channel's audience figures to programme easy undemanding material, but it ruins your otherwise excellent reputation for quality. At present my only haven from banality is Radio 4. Come on Aunty show us what you are really capable of.
Martin Snaith, Berwick Upon Tweed, UK

It's good to hear that the current situation is going to change
Duncan Smart, Ellington, Northumberland, UK
I couldn't agree more, and it's good to hear that the current situation is going to change. The licence fee only has a meaning if the BBC recalls what is actually implied by the words "public service" - a broadcaster of the BBC's reputation, expertise and experience is squandering its own potential when it chases viewing figures by imitating the "chewing-gum for the eyes" provided by commercial stations.
Duncan Smart, Ellington, Northumberland, UK

Although it's great having more arts programming, what about more science on screen? There used to be lots on BBC Knowledge, but when it became BBC Four most of it seemed to get dropped. Currently science seems to be relegated to either the overnight OU stuff, or Horizon!
Alan Robertson, Glasgow, UK

The BBC has always played a key role in providing the source of "ambient" information, education and cultural enrichment to the English speaking world and must strive to maintain the highest of standards. The recent trend towards cheap and lowbrow programming can only serve to perpetuate a tabloid culture of instant gratification, low expectation intellectual impoverishment.
Robert McCarthy, Redhill, Surrey

I cringe every time I hear that it's another make-over show. They are all the same; either it's Carol Voderman or Alice Beer trying to tell you how to decorate your house in a limited budget. It really does your nut in that little jingle at the start de dum ditty dum ditty dum da, thank heavens for a bit of common sense from the BBC
Paul , England

If BBC1 was more like Radio 4 we'd be laughing
Tamsin Wragg, Leeds, UK
I support Professor Lewis Gunn - BBC1 has "dumbed-down" enough - why not have more programmes about current and up-and-coming cultural events (and not just those in London) such as art exhibitions. If BBC1 was more like Radio 4 we'd be laughing. I am fed up with the poor quality of the programmes shown, especially on a Saturday night - appalling television - I never watch.
Tamsin Wragg, Leeds, UK

The proposal to cut down on makeover shows has to be a good thing... first we had celebrity cooks on at all hours, we've had DIY/Changing Rooms coming out of our ears and now property/house buying series to the point of saturation. I am glad too that Parkinson is going to ITV... his recent obsession with B-list "celebrities" such as the Beckhams (presumably in a vain attempt to appear up-to-date and relevant?) shows that his show has become a pale imitation of what it was in its heyday.
Robert Crosby, Nottingham, UK

Peak hours consist of makeover and property shows; dramas are either bows and bonnets/cops and robbers or hours of sport. There is a lack of original drama and arts programming. Film buffs in particular have been neglected by BBC2 - where are the documentaries on the industry or analysis? Odd when you consider how big media and film studies are at Colleagues and Universities. What has happened to Moviedrome, Scene by Scene and TX? Time for a shape up on BBC2 - BBC Four shouldn't be the place to go every time you want serious arts coverage...
Mark Ganderton, Norwich

BBC1, in particular, has become a viewing desert on too many evenings
Prof Lewis Gunn, Glasgow, UK
Unless BBC programmes become more distinguishable from those of commercial TV there can be no valid case for continuation of the licence fee. BBC1, in particular, has become a viewing desert on too many evenings unless one happens to be an addict to the miseries of 'East Enders' etc.
Prof Lewis Gunn, Glasgow, UK

Good move! Well done BBC for being bold. If I may also suggest - Get rid of the awful pleb TV over the weekend as well. People with IQs of more than 50 also want to watch Saturday night TV.!!!
A viewer , UK

Yes I would like more arts and current affairs programmes of the kind that assume the viewer has at least some intelligence and general knowledge - at present this kind of programming is found mainly on the cultural ghetto of BBC 4 - time to put it back on a terrestrial channel.
Ruth Arnaud, London UK

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