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BBC Three: has the channel been run down and will it get enough money?

BBC Three will move online.
A drop in viewing figures has been cited as one of the reasons in favour of BBC Three being 'reinvented online'. 

The decline in viewing figures follows several months of savage cutbacks on the channel, which has resulted in shows not being recommissioned and a large number of repeats - and repeats of repeats - taking over the channel since the BBC Executive's initial proposal to take BBC Three off TV was announced.

There have been accusations that the channel has been deliberately run down so that the BBC could use falling viewing figures as an excuse to make changes. After all, critics say, how often will viewers watch the same episodes of Don't Tell The Bride over and over again?

The BBC Trust has conditionally said yes to the proposals to move BBC Three online, but will require BBC One and Two to do more to welcome affected viewers and to commit to provide content previously shown on BBC Three TV. On average, a BBC Three viewer is younger and more likely to come from lower socio-economic groups, while BBC One, BBC Two and especially BBC Four have been attracting an average of older (60+), white and upmarket viewers. These viewers may not be pleased to see BBC One and Two fill their schedules with youth programming from BBC Three.

Jono Read, from the #saveBBC3 campaign voiced his concerns over the budget the new BBC Three Online would receive, wondering how BBC Three Online would survive against the big budgets of established online services. He said:

"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?

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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