BBC Four is facing the axe as the cash-strapped corporation prepares to cut costs by closing the channel.

According to the Telegraph, broadcast chiefs have privately revealed that BBC Four will be cut by the end of the year.

The BBC has officially denied the channel will be closed down, but the Telegraph reports that sources say outgoing director-general Lord Hall of Birkenhead does not want the cancellation to be part of his legacy, instead preferring his successor to make the announcement.

The coronavirus crisis, which has halted licence fee enforcement and postponed payments from over-75s, is said to have cost the corporation £125 million.

BBC Four, which attracts just 2% of UK viewing figures, has been identified as a target in cost-cutting measures.

The channel has a budget of £44 million and an average viewer age of 62. According to one source, an increased focus on youth is also behind the move.

They told the Telegraph: “Arts at the BBC has already been ghettoised. Their obsession is with chasing the youth demographic into BBC Four. It is not exciting to these execs.

“If all arts ends up moving to BBC Two, there will be competition for places and only a handful of presenters will get airtime.”

READ MORE: Hundreds of TV licences cancelled every day, new research finds

In response, BBC Four presenters have launched the #LoveBBCFour campaign on social media.

Oxford historian Dr Janina Ramirez tweeted: “Word on the street is we NEED to let the BBC know we want BBC Four to STAY!!!! Use the hashtag… spread it, share it, shout about it or we lose it.”

Dr Lucy Worsley, promoting her BBC Four documentary about the history of royal photographs, posted: “New show on BBC Four … and long may those who love BBC Four continue to read those words.”