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BBC unveils plans for online only BBC3

BBC unveils plans for online only BBC3
Tim Dams
10 December 2014

The BBC has unveiled details of its proposals to close BBC3 as a TV channel and move it online.

The changes, which will see BBC3’s content budget fall from £55m to £30m, are designed to save the corporation money and also reinvent the service for a young digital audience.

Under the proposals, 80% of BBC3’s budget will be spent on long form video like Murdered by My Boyfriend and Bad Education. The remainder will be invested in short form digital content.

BBC3 project lead Damian Kavanagh said the new service would aim to innovate with new forms of content and storytelling, and focus on two key editorial 'pillars': Make Me Think and Make Me Laugh.

Make Me Think is a mix of documentary, current affairs, news plus one drama a year. Make Me Laugh would be centred around scripted comedy, like Uncle or Gavin & Stacey, plus personality-led entertainment.

Danny Cohen, BBC Director of Television, said BBC3 will inevitably commission less content as it will not need to fill a TV schedule every night. In particular, fewer features and format shows will be commissioned.

BBC3 content would be accessible from a dedicated home online - available on multiple devices - that will pull long form and digital content together.

Short form and digital content would also be on social platforms like Tumblr, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and sites like Buzzfeed, with the aim of driving users back to the BBC3 site to watch long form content.

Long form would also be on BBC One, BBC Two and BBC iPlayer and, subject to negotiations, via on-demand services on Sky, YouView, Freesat and Virgin platforms.

BBC director general Tony Hall described the BBC3 plan as “one of the most exciting proposals I’ve seen since I’ve been back at the BBC in my 18 months.”

Hall said he wanted BBC3 to be a ‘pathfinder for the whole BBC’, searching out new ways to engage and entertain young audiences on their terms.

He said: “What we learn from this process, and we’ll learn a lot, we’ll use to set a new strategic direction for the BBC and reinvent public service for the digital world.”

The new look BBC3 is set to launch in Autumn 2015 pending BBC Trust approval.

Kavanagh said the proposals had been drawn up against a background of young audiences shifting from linear TV to online. “It now represents 28 percent of the average daily viewing for 16-24s, with forecasts from Enders Analysis suggesting this will be as high as 40 percent by 2020. Our proposal is to re-invent BBC3 for the digital age and to take risks with ideas, talent and technology.”

Danny Cohen, BBC Director of Television, said: “I'm truly very excited about the plans we are developing, both in terms of what they will mean for the future of BBC3 and what we can learn to drive the whole of the BBC forward in a time of relentless digital and technological change. I don’t want us to sit back as a legacy company and watch as generational change bites away at our impact – I want us to be at the forefront of that change.”

The savings will also allow the BBC to launch a time-shifted BBC1+1 service. The BBC also plans to extend CBBC’s hours of broadcast by two hours a day.

All comments
Robbie Moffat
Robbie Moffat  | December 10, 2014
i still don\'t understand where the £3.6 billion the BBC gets every year goes. If you gave me that this year, I certainly would not be back next year to ask for more. I would be expected to be asked the question - What did you do with the £3.6 billion we gave you? Its time the bean counters were sent into to find out why the BBC are having to cut back when they keep crowing at how well they are doing on £3.6 billion a year. It makes chumps of us all.

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