BBC Three TV To Close Autumn 2015 And Become An Online-Only Service

The BBC has announced plans to close the channel and relaunch it as a “new and innovative online service.”

1. UPDATE – 6 March, 11:20 a.m. GMT: The BBC has confirmed reports of BBC Three’s closure in an email circulated to staff.

Today the BBC has announced plans, subject to the approval of the BBC Trust, to close BBC Three as a broadcast TV channel in autumn 2015.

The plans would mean –

- The BBC saving over £50 million a year
- £30 million of that going into drama on BBC One
- BBC Three being reinvented as a new and innovative online service
- The freed-up spectrum being used to extend CBBC by an hour a night and to provide a BBC One +1 service.

We propose making this change in the autumn of next year. I believe it’s the right thing to do: young audiences – the BBC Three audience – are the most mobile and ready to move to an online world. 25% of viewing by 16-24 year olds is to catch-up or other screens and over the next few years we expect that to reach 40%. We recognise that, for now, most of this audience still do their viewing on television, and that is why we plan to show BBC Three’s long-form content on either BBC One or BBC Two.

2. A petition to save the TV station has reached nearly 60,000 signatures in 24 hours.

3. Broadcast Magazine first reported that BBC Three could move to iPlayer as part of the BBC’s latest round of cost-cutting.

The idea is emerging as a favoured proposal that would both prepare the corporation for a revolution in TV viewing and help it find £100m in savings.

Several BBC sources indicated that a plan to move the channel onto iPlayer is being discussed at the highest level, although no formal decisions have been taken. One senior industry figure said they were “certain” it is on the corporation’s agenda.

4. An online future for the channel does seem logical. Last year the BBC announced that all scripted comedy will be shown on iPlayer first, before debuting on the channel.

In a speech last year, the BBC Director General Tony Hall also unveiled plans for more online-only content on iPlayer, including video content from Radio 1 programmes. He has also recently proposed that the licence fee be extended to cover BBC iPlayer.

5. There have been rumours circulating about BBC Three closing. Many BBC Three personalities have spoken against the idea on Twitter.

#saveBBC3! Silly, funny, smart, young and essential......but enough me. Seriously though #saveBBC3

— nick grimshaw (@grimmers)

I really hope reports that the BBC may kill BBC3 are just rumours. There support of new comedy in particular is vital! #saveBBC3

— Jack Whitehall (@jackwhitehall)

BBC3 started my career. Whether or not that's a good thing is a matter of opinion, but I owe it a lot. I hope it sticks around. #SaveBBC3

— Joe Tracini (@joetracini)

9. Many viewers are also against the move.

#SaveBBC3 no where else give young new comedy talent the chance to take risks. Launched so many comic careers. BBC please don't cut it.

— Jolyon Rubinstein (@JolyonRubs)

Uncle, Bad Education, Cuckoo, Revolution Will Be Televised, Him and Her, (RTS nom'd today) In The Flesh, The Fades, Being Human... #SaveBBC3

— Chris Chibnall (@ChrisChibnall)

BBC3 may not be for me, but at least it’s distinctive. Axe BBC News channel. Rolling news is endless drivel #saveBBC3

— John Allison (@badmachinery)

12. The hashtag #SaveBBC3 has also trended consistently on Twitter in the last couple of days.

13. However, not everyone is fussed about the channel potentially closing.

Can't believe BBC3 may be axed. I'll miss shouting 'What is this fucking shit?' at the telly. Sad times. #SaveBBC3

— Tiernan Douieb (@TiernanDouieb)

The debate is less "Should BBC3 be axed?" and more "Is an online BBC3 the right thing for young licence fee payers and the BBC's future?"

— Chris Curtis (@ChrisMCurtis)

Hopefully they'll merge BBC3 and BBC4 so I can finally find a home for my show 'Fuck Off, I'm Tchaikovsky'.

— Benjamin Partridge (@benpartridge)

Where else am I going to watch shows about young people getting drunk and vomiting on their flip flops? Other than anywhere else #SaveBBC3

— Benjamin Lee (@benfraserlee)

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Scott Bryan is a TV editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London. Contact this reporter at:
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