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