Smith raises doubts over BBC4

3.30am: Chris Smith has criticised Tessa Jowell's decision to give the green light to the digital channel. By Jessica Hodgson.

Chris Smith, the former secretary of state for culture, media and sport, has criticised the decision taken by his successor, Tessa Jowell, to allow the BBC to launch all its planned digital services except BBC3.

Mr Smith was replaced by Ms Jowell in a cabinet reshuffle immediately after the last election and has returned to the back benches.

Speaking publicly for the first time about Ms Jowell's handling of his old job, Mr Smith cast doubt on the wisdom of giving the green light to BBC4, the planned digital channel covering the arts, current affairs and politics.

"I'm not sure I'd have given approval to BBC4 and not BBC3," he said today in an interview with the gay and lesbian website,

He said there was a "danger BBC4 will become the sole repository of anything in any way demanding. It might lead to a further slide in the non-populist content of BBC1."

Mr Smith added: "I hope Tessa Jowell is going to be watching that very carefully."

The MP also called for Ofcom, the new communications regulator, to be given greater control over the BBC.

"As we move towards the establishment of Ofcom, I think it, rather than the secretary of state, could be responsible for granting permission to the BBC for new channels and monitoring their performance," he said.

Mr Smith also denied press reports that have put him forward as a possible Ofcom chairman, saying "no one has approached me about it".

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

BBC4 rapped by Ofcom over 'unfair' editing

BBC4 has been reprimanded by Ofcom for 'unfair' editing in an edition of its documentary Crisis at the Castle broadcast in June 2007. By Ben Dowell

Ben Dowell

09, Jun, 2008 @2:23 PM

BBC4 unveils winter and spring lineup

Jessie Wallace and Kelvin MacKenzie both feature in BBC4's winter and spring 2007 lineup. By Chris Tryhorn.

Chris Tryhorn

17, Jan, 2007 @11:10 AM

Article image
Budget boost for BBC4

11.30am: As the channel prepares to celebrate its second birthday next week, BBC4 bosses have been handed an extra £10m to help them find the next Alan Clark Diaries, reports John Plunkett.

John Plunkett

24, Feb, 2004 @11:35 AM

BBC4 chronicles classical music

10.45am: BBC4 is to air a landmark series about British classical music. By Ben Dowell.

Ben Dowell

11, Jun, 2007 @9:49 AM

Article image
BBC4 gets new look

8am: Digital arts and culture channel BBC4 is launching a new onscreen look later this month, using idents based around optical illusions. By Jason Deans.

Jason Deans, broadcasting editor

07, Sep, 2005 @2:37 PM

Article image
Thriller hits high for BBC4

5pm: BBC1 thriller State of Play may have lost the ratings battle to ITV, but a preview episode on BBC4 gave the digital channel its biggest ever audience. By Jason Deans.

Jason Deans

19, May, 2003 @4:04 PM

Article image
BBC4 to resurrect After Dark

Notorious late night chat show After Dark, on which the late Oliver Reed once drunkenly tried to kiss a leading feminist writer, is being brought back by BBC4. By Jason Deans.

Jason Deans

28, Jan, 2003 @2:50 PM

BBC4 ventures into costume drama

8am: Highbrow digital channel BBC4 is to make its first venture into costume drama with an adaptation of a trilogy of novels set in London in the 30s. By Chris Tryhorn.

Chris Tryhorn

19, Nov, 2004 @7:39 AM

Article image
BBC4 commissions Enid Blyton biopic
Drama expected to focus on Noddy and Famous Five author's troubled private life. By Ben Dowell

Ben Dowell

05, Mar, 2009 @7:15 AM

BBC4 goes mad for science

8am: BBC4 will maintain its highbrow credentials with a three-part series on quantum physics, which forms part of its Science You Can't See mini-season. By Leigh Holmwood.

Leigh Holmwood

12, May, 2006 @8:18 AM