BBC Trust recommends BBC3 TV axe

bbc3The BBC Trust has delivered it verdict on BBC Three – recommending approval for an online-only BBC3 from January, ignoring the views of 300,000 people who signed the #SaveBBC3 petition.

“When the BBC management announced plans to close BBC Three over eighteen months ago we knew it wouldn’t be an easy task to convince them to change their minds. Like an episode of W1A they had been won over by a series of buzzwords in the offices of New Broadcasting House, with no understanding of the little appetite there would be for their plans.

I truly believed the chair of the BBC Trust when she said the viewers would be put at the heart of decision making at the BBC Trust – it’s why we kept fighting. The BBC Trust had already concluded last year the corporation was not doing enough for young people, and their last analysis of these proposals found with television still a powerful medium that audiences would end up with ITV2, E4, and Sky. Even bosses admit viewership will drop.

It is disappointing today that the BBC has not truly listened. The BBC management did not engage significantly with the future licence fee payers over this matter, probably because they knew what their response would be.

How can they try to launch a new service to rival the likes of BuzzFeed and VICE with a reduced budget rather than investment? And what incentive is there for new talent work with an online-only BBC3?

Today’s choices did not have to be a clear cut as yes or no. There were other options on the table. I am a big fan of keeping the BBC public, but when it comes to axing a channel off television there should have been more thought given to the offer to buy. With the BBC losing the rights to the Olympics this week it will also potentially leave a big pot of money unspent that could have been used to invest in young people.

Instead the Director General’s priority has been a BBC1+1 (now rejected) that would bring no further additional viewers than the innovative service he has chosen to axe from the TV screens. He proposed doing this because he said he didn’t want to “salami slice” the budget, but I can only conclude today that he will do just that. The online service – with fewer viewers – will not offer the value for money this exercise was meant to achieve.

The #SaveBBC3 campaign will keep fighting. We believe the BBC needs to inspire a generation rather than losing one. A 28-day consultation now follows, and we plan to make our voices heard as loudly as possible. The BBC Trust today hasn’t listened – we plan to make sure by the end of this consultation they do.”

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