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Mulville and Thoday rally fellow indies to save BBC3

Mulville and Thoday rally fellow indies to save BBC3
Tim Dams
17 March 2015

Hat Trick boss Jimmy Mulville and Avalon founder Jon Thoday are stepping up their campaign to prevent the closure of BBC3 as a linear TV channel.

Mulville and Thoday are set to address fellow independent production companies on the subject next Thursday in a bid to rally support from the indie sector.

Mulville and Thoday have also proposed forming a not for profit organisation, set up like Channel 4, to take over BBC3.

Speaking to journalists at Broadcasting Press Guild event this morning, Thoday said: “This is such a serious matter that if we can’t buy the channel to keep it going then our proposal would be to form a company which is the same as Channel 4.”

Mulville added: “We would put it into a statutory corporation very much like Channel 4 so all the profits would go back into the channel, into the sector, into training, into encouraging people from diverse backgrounds into this industry.”

The pair have previously talked of buying BBC3 for £100m to prevent it from closure.

But the BBC has dismissed their proposal, saying it did not make sense either “practically or in the interests of licence fee payers”

Mulville and Thoday argue the BBC has invested over £1bn in BBC3 since its launch and that it is wrong for the corporation to simply close it as a linear TV proposition.

“The BBC is the only broadcaster which is actually shutting down channels. Everybody else is actually growing channels,” said Mulville.

Mulville, whose indie Hat Trick produces shows including Have I Got News For You and Episodes, described BBC3 as a gateway for new ideas and talent, both in front of and behind the camera.

Thoday’s independent production and management company Avalon makes shows including Russell Howard’s Good News and Catastrophe. He said that the BBC’s plan to replace BBC3 with a BBC1  +1 service would see the corporation “shoring up a channel which has a very old audience and doesn’t have a record of doing new shows.”

Mulville added: “If they are successful, and they do close down BBC3, the BBC will in one fell swoop become more middle aged, more middle class and whiter.”

Both Mulville and Thoday argue that running BBC3 as an online only proposition is a mistake. “A standalone online entertainment channel might as well be called 'oblivion',” said Mulville. “In an ocean of information and content, TV still cuts through.”

They hope to recruit more support for their campaign from independent producers at a meeting next week.

Thoday said: “John McVay of Pact has suggested that we hold an event which we are holding for all of the true independents, and we will be explaining our situation to them so they understand where we are coming from. We will invite any participation from any true independents.”

“And also anybody from the BBC who wants to come along is more than welcome,” added Mulville.

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