UK pubcaster the BBC is set to axe its youth-skewing TV channel BBC3 in a bid to save money, relaunching it as an online-only brand.
BBC News and multiple other UK publications are reporting that the Corporation will officially announce tomorrow (March 6) that 11-year-old BBC3 will cease to exist as a linear TV channel and will instead become part of BBC iPlayer, the Beeb’s online VoD and catch-up service.
BBC3, overseen by controller Zai Bennett, is home to reality series such as Boom Town and Don’t Tell the Bride, as well as single docs such as Is Amanda Knox Guilty? and doc series such as Our War. The move would mean the channel’s programming would only be accessible digitally via laptops, iPads, or TVs with online connectivity.
However, the decision is expected to safeguard arts- and factual-focused sister network BBC4, which has similarly been under threat, with past reports having suggested internal proposals to axe it or merge it with BBC2. It is unclear at present whether BBC4 will be renamed once BBC3 disappears, or how the move may impact Bennett’s position.
The news comes after BBC director general Tony Hall last week told attendees at the Oxford Media Convention that the BBC faced tough choices in the months ahead.
“We are in the final stages of a budget process to find an extra £100 million of savings,” he said. “I will announce the outcome of those decisions in the next month.”
Reports earlier in the week suggested the Corporation may be preparing to axe the BBC3 brand completely, leading to a Twitter campaign from some of the channel’s best-known stars – such as comedians Jack Whitehall and Matt Lucas – to try and save the channel.