UPDATE: BBC Three to close as on-air channel

News Louisa Mellor 6 Mar 2014 - 11:08

It's now been confirmed: BBC Three is to become an online channel only.

UPDATE: It has now been confirmed that BBC Three in its current form is to close, moving to an online model only. Ongoing shows will move to BBC One and BBC Two. £30m of extra budget, earmarked for drama, will move to BBC One. This does need to be ratified by the BBC Trust, which now remains the last chance to save BBC Three in its current form.

Here's our original story...

It's a situation nobody envies. Director General of the BBC, Tony Hall, announced at last week's Oxford Media Convention that the corporation needs to save another £100 million a year. Hall says the BBC doesn't want to resort to "salami slicing", or in other words, cutting a little here and a little there from all over the corporation. That means a drastic chop. It might mean the end of digital channels BBC Three and BBC Four.

There's been no official word yet on the future of the digital channels, though a BBC spokesperson has said that while no decisions have been made, "...nothing is off the table". It's been suggested that BBC Four (which stopped making original drama last year) could be absorbed into BBC Two programming in future.

Say what you will about the channel's popular Snog, Marry, Avoid or Sun, Sex, & Suspicious Parents strand, but BBC Three has also given us the likes of dramas Being HumanIn The FleshThe Fades, and Torchwood, along with Doctor Who Confidential, The Mighty Boosh, Gavin & Stacey and Ideal, to name just a few

Comedians and actors whose work has been nurtured by the youth-oriented digital channel, notably Little Britain's Matt Lucas, Radio One's Nick Grimshaw and Bad Education's Jack Whitehall, have added their support to a "Save BBC Three" campaign. We'll bring you more news as it arrives.

The Guardian

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Axe East Enders

I can imagine most East Enders viewers saying "Axe Doctor Who"

i reckon doctor who makes more money :-)

In seriousness though Eastenders and their ilk are relatively cheap to make. 30 million a year (2011 bbc audit report) for 104 hours of tv is good going (£144,000 an episode or £just under £300,000 an hour)

£22 million a year for Casualty is not as good value, around 50 episodes a year of that are made which is £440,000 an episode/hour. given Eastenders is a lot more popular I'd argue it's good value.
Can we start a campaign to cut casualty, i'm sure they can fill that hour with a saturday night quiz or entertainment show for a lower cost

Gone are the days of Torchwood, Being Human, The Fades... but at least I now know who Stacy Dooley and Billie JD Porter are?

(Putting on my Old Man's Hat) I remember the days when digital/cable TV promised to bring us hundreds of channels of specialist programming, a free channel for every legal interest. Now I flip through dozens of channels of shopping and crap quizzes looking for something halfway decent to watch... I never really watched either channel, as the Yoof programmes scared me with their alienness, but I'd be sorry to see them go...

I think this says it all…

MANDELA - Nearly three times as many BBC staff were sent to cover Nelson Mandela's death than all of its rival British broadcasters put together. The corporation sent a total of 140 presenters and crew members to South Africa, while Sky News had the second highest number of the British broadcasters with 15. According to The Times, ITV and Channel 4 sent nine people to cover the event in South Africa, while Channel 5 sent four.

WINTER OLYMPICS - The BBC sent 95 staff to the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Twice the number who actually competed for Team GB. It was also 21 more than were sent to cover Vancouver 2010 winter games.

Don't disagree with you on Mandela... 140 is incredibly excessive despite the importance of the event.
However, 95 for Sochi is quite reasonable in my eyes. They had at least 2 commentators for every event, several presenters on rotation and countless crew members covering all aspects such as camera, lighting, sound, editing etc as well as other administrative responsibilities. It was a huge task and they did a great job as far as I'm concerned. At least it's nowhere near the figure that NBC brought to London for 2012: 2700 compared to the home broadcasters 700 odd (exact figure escapes me)

When i told me teenage stepdaughter that they were axing BBC3 she was aghast, how can they do this, where will all these shows go but when i said it would be on the iPlayer she didnt seem too bothered, personally i would take the best of the BBC3 programs and move them onto 2, when i was young 2 was always the channel for youth anyway so that would be no big deal, more and more people now watch TV online so although it would be a blow to lose BBC3 i wouldnt be the end of the world

It couldn't hurt to sack some of the middle-men that infest BBC comedy- people with no actual power to commission programmes, only delay them while they meddle with scripts and try to put their own stamp on them before they get to their bosses. Taking those people off the corporation's payroll could only help, from a financial and a creative point of view.

My ex would be gutted if they axed Casualty, its pretty much the only thing she watches religiously

Viewing habits have changed - many people enjoy the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant (nee LoveFilm) these days, so BBC3 becoming iPlayer-only isn't an axing, it's an evolution.

The younger generation are much more likely to watch on their tablet, laptop or phone than older audience, so surely it stands to reason that it's a channel that's aimed at them follows the online-only trend?

Wouldn't be surprised if Channel 4 snapped up the likes of Family Guy and the best of new BBC3 content will continue to be shown via iPlayer, which a growing number of people can access on their smart TVs, if they don't want to go for the tablet/laptop/phone route.

It's change, my dears - and it seems not a moment too soon.

I think that BBC3 will go. Maybe not completely but having a pure digital presence which might not be a bad thing. Also why they don't ditch BBC Alba that nobody watches is beyond me

What are they doing with all the "saved" money?

Everything has a niche - even BBC Alba which is pretty big in some parts of Scotland

Probably putting it towards funding the BBC World Service which the government has forced them to take on despite the huge savings they were already being forced to make. That's an extra £245m funding to come from the licence fee.

What about if you miss Dr Who on the broadcast night, and don't have the internet? No more BBC3 repeats :(

And Dr who repeats!

Spending it on lawyers to defend the establishment child molesters....

BBC3 is/was a great testing ground for both new comedy and new drama. Granted, some of that comedy was horrible, but it is worth putting up with the odd bit of dreck to discover that new show that really works and wouldn't have had a chance on a more mainstream channel. As for the repeats, that's how they pad the schedule to keep the channel going and, frankly, I'm going to miss those late night Family Guy/American Dad repeats (generally as I hang my washing to dry on a Sunday). The move online is just a smokescreen - I cannot see the BBC developing new programming for an online only channel which, presumably, will still only be accessible within the UK. Give it a year or so and the whole thing will be pulled.
Who do I blame for this? High wages of presenters? The government for freezing the licence fee? No. The former are just a reflection of the market (or do we want BBC programming to be fronted by the cheaper alternative to their competitors, or are we expecting presenters to work for less money just because they're feeling kindly?) and the latter is just a reflection of the demands of the public. And what do the public demand? More premium sport, quality original programming and family entertainment but for less than £150 a year, and ideally less than that. Sorry, but that's simply not possible.

But what about my fill of 'Snog, Marry or Avoid'?

In all seriousness though, there are plenty of radio stations they should be putting to the Axe before BBC3

There was half a person competing in Team GB? XD

I hope that wasn't a paralympic joke...

don't think it was, just a joke at saying 95 was double the number of athletes


Yeah let's slander the whole of the BBC employment roster based on the actions of a couple of people....

If you have to make a major cut anywhere, this is the channel to do it with: the younger demographic are clearly going to be the least affected by such a move to internet-only programming.

This is obviously not good news, but it could prevent sleeper hits, like The Fades, from being cancelled purely due to original viewing figures, by allowing positive word-of-mouth and delayed viewing figures to influence decisions. There could even be an increase in original content!

Hang on - as an Australian, so, bear with me UK, in my igorance: the BBC are behind Sex, Sun and Suspicious Parents? The BBC who make Doctor Who? Who make excellent programs (well, and Alantis, apparently)? That CREEPY show?

Still processing this fact.

The joy of public service broadcasting - you have to make lowest common denominator crap to appeal to mouth-breathers, which snaffles a chunk of the budget from quality programming.

Sorry but I really don't get the fuss over this. BBC3 isn't going away, just moving online and considering the ratings that would seem to be a good thing. As a channel it's never really hit the ratings heights of its older siblings and going online would likely only increase its reach. Look at the argument that BBC3 developed new comedy for instance. These days what's more likely to make new shows a hit: 1) word of mouth that you should watch this show at this time on this channel or 2) word of mouth that you should watch this show and here's a direct link for you to do so now? Yes the existing model allows you to go to iPlayer too but if that's the case... why do you need the broadcast channel?

More to the point perhaps this seems like the BBC once again being at the leading edge of technological progress. We're already seeing Netflix and the like deliver original high quality programming online and over the next decade we're surely going to see more and more traditional providers go down the same route. The infrastructure is in place to make this a viable mode of delivery for a large proportion of the population and consumer choice is increasingly moving to on demand services.

While it will be many, many years before the TV as we know it goes away in many homes the time of the big screen set being the primary means of media consumption is already drawing to a close. Laptops, tablets and phones allow everyone to watch what they want, when they want on increasingly high quality screens. The BBC has been a big part of that change in the UK thanks to iPlayer and it only seems natural that it'll do the same for original content as well.

Sold my TV years ago. I just looked at it one day and realised I hadn't even turned it on for months. Cordcutting all the way for me.

The most annoying thing about this is the way it's so half-heartedly closed, as if "moving it online" somehow makes it alright. If the BBC want to close a channel they should have the balls to actually close that channel completely and admit it hasn't worked. After all if it's good enough for online then why not for broadcast?

I upvote this for honesty, BBC 4 I don't think I've ever really watched, BBC 3 I've not watched since Dr Who Confidential. With all the Home Shopping channels and repeats of shows from 3 years ago I rarely watch anything that's not on BBC 1, 2, ITV or Channel 4 regularly (and in C4's case only the news)

What the hell is BBC Alba never heard of it !

Scottish Gaelic channel. In some parts of the UK Scottish Gaelic is the first language.

It's the BBCs Scottish Gaelic service. In some parts of the UK Scottish Gaelic is the first language.

I'm not really surprised, the BBC is having to do a lot more with less. Various government departments have been shedding their broadcast commitments onto the corporation. The World Service, S4C, BBC Monitoring are now to be funded from the License fee which has itself been frozen since 2010 and will be until 2016. Something has to give and to be honest I do see the rational behind this choice.

I usually try not to swear (too much) in my comments, but I'm calling it: BULLSHIT. Thanks BBC, for axing one of your most entertaining and progressive channels, for no good reason. I bet the £30 million they've saved will be spent on yet more bloody period dramas.

So the BBC take BBC 3 off air to cut costs but give that tied off used condom full of hot sick, Michael McIntrye, his own chat show? I don't get it.

Wow, BBC 3 is getting axed totally! Not that I watch a lot of things on the channel, but still. Hopefully the BBC wil give Backchat a place on BBC 2 or something, because that was a brilliant talkshow that had a very broad demografic, at least thats my experiance.

If ongoing shows will move to BBC One and Two,wont that messs up show scheduling for One and Two?

Where would we Americans be without our BBC period dramas!

In my opinion, much better off. Can't stand the things. But as this is a thread about good old British tv, I highly recommend you watch Bad Education, if you haven't already. Frigging hilarious.

Exactly - The paralympics never even crossed my mind!

They can make an argument for it the day Phil Mitchell action figures outsell Cybermen ones :-)

Probably not; the BBC does not have enough original/new content to satisfy 4 channels. BBC3&4 both run for less than 12 hours a day in any case. It has seemed strange to me that they kept these 2 going as long as they did.

Yeah, but they'll be on 'Watch' anyway!

If the move to iPlayer is sucesful then it gives the BBC a real problem in terms of the sustainability of the licence fee.

i have to ask what if people don't have the internet and they miss an episode of lets say doctor who what are those fans then going to do do the bbc even think of these things

Good. Terrible channel.

So what. . .

Doesn't surprise me, since they cancelled The Fades there's been nothing on the channel to interest me. It's a shame, at one time it had some of the most interesting content coming out of the BBC, but in the last few years it's just seemed like poor decision after poor decision.

The recession is getting bad if a channel is shutting down, Damn. Not good

They better not Cancel Doctor Who again

possibly the BBC's biggest waste of money, pandering to about 1% of the population of a country, which it may not have to worry about very soon, who speak an unofficial language, itself an invading tongue from Ireland. At least their Welsh service makes sense, Alba doesn't.

It's not axed. It's just - maybe - going to be online only.

"Wow, BBC 3 is getting axed totally" No, it isn't..

Not if the rules about the licence fee change, which may happen.

I doubt very much they will cancel a show that brings in hundreds of millions every year, and is consistently one of the most watched shows in the country, if not the world.

Then you get left behind, old-timer ;)

I get the feeling you're not Scotland's biggest fan?

with the exception of when i watch dr who, bbc 3 is the only on i watch, why cant they get rid of bbc4 instead, no one watches that.
if they getting rid of a channel they should make the tv licence cheaper!

Not at all, I love Scotland, and hope they choose to remain in the UK. I am not a fan of the sort of pandering liberal organisation that feels it should waste money on a separate channel specifically for an unofficial minority language in about the furthest flung, least populated parts of the British Isles. Asians in Britain only get a radio station, not a television station, and yet there are probably 10 times as many Urdu speakers than Scots Gaelic speakers.

BBC3 costs a lot more money, with an audience share of about 1%. English is an unofficial language, itself an invading tongue from Germany. Dropping co-owned and funded channels that support minority languages makes no sense.

I would totally buy a Phil Mitchell Action figure.

English is an official language of the EU (and about 60 countries worldwide), and the de facto language of the UK (in other words it is above your pedantry). It may be an invading language from Germany, but nobody is trying to roll back the clock and re-introduce virtually extinct tongues or pander to them with TV channels in England (can we have a BBC Kernow please?). BBC3 costs about £90m and is watched by 9m people a week, Alba costs license fee payers £15m and is watched by about 600K people per week (and most of them for the football). Value for money and common sense say the BBC should ditch Alba, its co-owners, and the SNP can pay for it all and if it's viable then it will keep going.

When you look at all the waste-of-space second-tier BBC channels one has to wonder why they chose the BEST of the bad bunch to cancel, instead of the unwatched rubbish that is BBC FOUR, for example.

Sky +

As a channel it is. After that you've only got a couple of BBC 3 programmes that survive.

Shame, , bbc 3 and four are both great.

Because it costs more to broadcast. And they want to use the channel for something else. It's a simple decision for them.

Is it me, or are the only big names trying to save it the same as those who have jobs on shows on BBC Three? I won't be missing it.

Save B.B.C. Three and close B.B.C. Radio instead. That would save £670 million! Radio listeners pay NOTHING!

This sounds suspiciously like an Independence debate - two sides quoting the same facts and drawing opposite conclusions. Let's be honest, neither of us watch BBC Parliament.

This is appalling to see! BBC Three makes TV these days!

Now to destroy the rest of the BBC and end all the homosexual and feminist propaganda.

Where are the muslim suicide bombers when you need them?

BBC Four is an excellent channel. Very often the only decent channel in a sea of mediocrity. Anyone who truly appreciates intelligent quality televison will enjoy BBC Four. Give it try, you might actually like it, instead of casually dismissing it as "unwatched rubbish" BBC Three may be many things but I wouldn't call it the best of a bad bunch. Over the years there has been some decent stuff on BBC Three but its increasingly lost out to the infantile game shows and moronic so-called comedies. Also the main continuity announcer is a Radio 1 DJ who use the abbreviation "Lol" as a noun and "party" as a verb!...

That is a total joke! I pay my TV licence and bbc three is the only bbc channel I watch.
Does that mean I can opt out of paying as the other channels are Crap. Hmm I don't think so.
Bbc three channel online is not a option for me as my Internet connection is useless.

Glad I have sky so I can watch something other than the drivel that is on the other bbc channels

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