BBC3 gets approval to exit broadcast and move online

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The BBC’s decision to move youth network BBC Three online-only has received final approval from the BBC Trust governing body.

A BBC Trust report on the closure referred to estimates that 80% of the 925,000 of BBC3’s mainly young audience who don’t watch other BBC channels could be lost to the Corporation following the closure.

That represents a loss of 740,000 viewers to the youth-focused channel, although the Trust said it hoped to retrieve these audiences via the online service and through BBC3 programmes shown on BBC1 and BBC2. Of the 740,000 viewers who don’t watch other BBC channels, 540,000 are aged 16 to 34.

No new programming will air on the channel from the end of January, when the station effectively becomes a promotional tool for the online service that will replace it. BBC3 shows of the past few years have included Bluestone 42, Being Human and Our War, which looked at the Afghanistan conflict through the eyes of young soldiers.

The Trust said it recognised the widespread opposition to the closure as well as other drawbacks.
“Not everyone has a reliable internet connection and for many young people, television remains important,” it said. “Furthermore the loss of the linear platform may result in less exposure for new shows and make it difficult for the BBC to attract and nurture talent.”

The Trust has increased the obligations on BBC1 and BBC2 to show BBC3 online content at a variety of times, including primetime.

BBC1 and BBC2 will meanwhile be required to make more distinctive programmes aimed at younger audiences.

The Trust rejected the BBC’s proposal to replace the channel space of BBC3 with a BBC+1 catch-up service.

BBC3’s digital controller Damian Kavanagh said: “BBC3 is not closing, we are reinventing online. We will not be a scheduled 7pm to 4am linear broadcast TV channel but we will be everywhere else giving you the freedom to choose what to watch when you want.”

Source: Radio Times

11 Comments:

  1. It’s disgraceful.
    BBCThree is a fantastic channel, when I was in the UK I enjoyed many hours watching it.

    Moving it online just isn’t the same, they’re making a horrible choice by doing this.

  2. The issue is not so much BBC3 going “online only” as it is a huge cut in it’s programming budget. Much of it’s lineup has been imported US content that will likely air in the UK on other FTA channels. But it will still be making much less original content than it did before.

    Regarding the comments about Tories, there are only so many million pounds a government should spend on youth comedy and drama rather than hospital beds, schools or debt interest.

    Regarding the comment about ABC3, consider how much you would prefer ABC2 (BBC3’s much closer equivalent) to continue, rather than say having Gonski-level funding for the poorest schools, or a new hospital. Is another screening of “Dawn Porter: I Almost Fell Down in the Shower Today” really worth it?

    • But they’re two entirely separate issues.

      Removing ABC3 wouldn’t magically mean that there’s now money for schools. Just because ABC3 is primarily a kids/young tween channel doesn’t mean its funding comes out of education, they’re not linked.

      There’s nothing to be gained from closing ABC3. Kids don’t get to vote, they don’t get to decide what happens with tax money, they have very few right as it is.
      To remove a channel dedicated to them would be cruel.

      The concept the programming for youth doesn’t matter (presumably because you’re not personally interested in it), I find quite ageist.

      • It’s true there’s not magic involved. But if money is spent on one thing, it isn’t spent on another. As beneficial as TV programs might be, there are always other things competing for the money spent on them. Every dollar someone spends on coffees is a dollar not donated to the Australian Children’s Television Foundation.

        I also don’t believe that content for youth (or any other age group) doesn’t matter. I just don’t think that there is any category of TV content that deserves an infinite amount of government money to produce and/or distribute.

    • The UK government does not fund the BBC, so it is not taking away from health or education budgets. The BBC receives its funding from the TV license that all households with a TV have to pay. The UK government is trying to cut the fee, and restrict what the BBC can produce and broadcast, specfically because Rupert Murdoch does not like public broadcasters because it upsets his business model.

      • It’s more than just a fee cut. TV licenses for over 75s (i think) were subsidised by the Govt, and now the Govt is telling the BBC to find the extra money to pay for these.

  3. This decision to go on line is a response to budget cuts and political pressure the BBC is under from Cameron’s Tory government who want to make it less competitive with commercial television in Britain.

    • And it’s very telling that not one of the commercial players in the UK have come out in support of the move to axe BBC3. It’s a shockingly poor decision no viewer or competitors agree with, and makes poor financial sense too as the BBC is now left with dead air rather than valuable space they can flog, while the BBC3 budget has been cut by half yet the content cut by over two thirds.

      Although it was probably right to halt the annual licence fee increases in 2010 and make the BBC look at it’s structure I don’t think any viewer objects to a modest increase every few years – BBC3 could have been saved with a 14p a month increase in the fee.

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