Bosses call time on BBC Three

India Bottomley discusses the talks surrounding BBC Three’s future on our screens.

The BBC making budget cuts is nothing new; in 2011 they announced plans to reduce their spending by 20% within six years. However the recent announcement that they are going to turn BBC Three into an online-only channel has sparked a huge debate over the BBC’s priorities.

Reactions to the announcement have varied from light hearted comments about people not knowing where they’ll be able to watch three episodes of Family Guy in a row once the channel is no longer available, to people expressing their concern about how it will affect the production of new programs and the rise of young talent in the industry. Described on the BBC’s website as “a genuine laboratory for BBC One and BBC Two” the channel was set up around the idea of it being a platform to launch new innovative programs aimed at a younger audience than the BBC’s other channels.

Following this news; celebrities and the general public took to social media to express their anger and frustration about the channel becoming online-only, but also commenting about how the channel’s funding will be redistributed. Social media users reacted strongly with getting #SaveBBC3 trending on twitter throughout last week and a “Save BBC3” Facebook page which has over 220,000 ‘likes’. When looking through users’ reactions the consensus seems to be that cuts could be made elsewhere, with a large number of people calling for BBC Parliament or BBC Four to have their budgets cut instead. Others arguing that with a target audience (aged between 16 and 34 years old) are License fee payers, and therefore shouldn’t have the only channel that is specifically aimed at their demographic taken off air.

In a press release on the 6th of March the BBC announced that from the £90 million per year savings that would come with the channels removal, they will put £50 million towards BBC One drama, extend CBBC’s broadcasting schedule by an hour each day and launching a BBC One+1 channel. They go on to explain how TV License fees have not seen an increase for five years and therefore cuts do need to be made somewhere. This announcement highlights the reasons behind people’s strong reactions to the announcement: the money that will be saved is going towards projects that a large percentage of current BBC Three viewers aren’t interested in.

The proposed closure still needs to be approved by the BBC Trust, who will make the final decision on the matter. In the meantime, BBC Three viewers will need to wait to find out what the much talked about online innovations will consist of.


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