Wednesday 21 February 2018

Campaigners bid to save BBC3 for TV

Little Britain is among the success stories of BBC3
Little Britain is among the success stories of BBC3

Campaigners have delivered a petition signed by more than a quarter of a million people calling on the BBC not to axe digital station BBC3.

The corporation's bosses have proposed to drop the channel off TV and make it online-only as part of ongoing cost savings.

The petition, signed by 271,222 people, was delivered to the BBC Trust which has to approve the plan.

Jono Read, who set up the original petition online, said: " Only last month the BBC Trust claimed that they want to give power to the people rather than important leaving decisions within the hands of a 'small elite' management at the BBC. If they genuinely mean this they will listen to the 270,000 people who have signed the Change.org petition against the closure of BBC3, and the views of key BBC3 talent who are dead set against the proposals."

Campaigners were joined by Labour MP John McDonnell who tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) opposing the closure.

BBC3 was set up as a youth-orientated channel and counts Gavin And Stacey and Little Britain among its successes.

Last month, BBC bos ses ruled out selling the station after major independent producers stepped forward in an effort to keep it on TV and pump in extra cash.

Production firms Hat Trick and Avalon - who are behind shows such as Have I Got News For You and Not Going Out - said they would give BBC3 a budget more than three times higher than the one proposed by the BBC if it becomes an online proposition.

However the BBC ruled out any possibility of a sale.

A spokesman for the corporation said: "BBC3 is not for sale because it's not closing. The proposal to move it online is part of a bold move to reinvent the BBC's offer for young people."

The trust has launched a "public value test" (PVT) to scrutinise the BBC Executive's plans to close BBC3 as a broadcast channel in the autumn.

Over the next few months the consultation will gather views from the public and other interested parties over the raft of proposals, and Ofcom has also launched an assessment of how the plans would affect the UK broadcasting market.

A trust spokeswoman said: "The Trust wants to ensure the views of audiences and the industry are heard in discussions about the changes to BBC3, and to other services, that the BBC Executive has proposed.

"We will carefully consider all contributions made to the consultation over the last four weeks before reaching any conclusions."

A BBC spokeswoman said: "With the licence fee frozen we've had to make some difficult choices in order to save £800 million a year, including moving BBC Three online.

"There is no easy solution and we have chosen to make a bold move to reinvent the service rather than simply having to take money out of all our programmes across the board."

Press Association

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