Over 60,000 people have already signed a petition to save the channel
BBC Director General Tony Hall has announced that BBC Three will close as a TV channel.
The channel, which is the broadcaster’s youth-focused station and is formerly home to comedies including The Mighty Boosh, will only be available online on iPlayer from autumn 2015.
The move will mean its budget will be cut from £85m to £25m. Some £30m of that will go to BBC One drama. As BBC News reports, the proposal will also create space for a BBC One +1 service and a one-hour evening extension of CBBC to 8pm.
Lord Hall said moving BBC Three was “financially necessary” to boost BBC One’s drama budget, which is said is the “heart of the BBC”. “I want younger and less affluent audiences to be better served by the BBC. Younger audiences are increasingly moving online and on demand. The challenge is to take the brilliance of BBC Three into that world,” he said.
The proposals have been endorsed by the corporation’s executive board, but the BBC Trust, which represents the interests of licence fee payers, will carry out a full consultation before giving its stamp of approval.
However, many supporters of the show have expressed dismay at the plans, which they say will be bad for the development of new comedy.
“I really hope reports that the BBC may kill BBC3 are just rumours. There support of new comedy in particular is vital! #saveBBC3,” Jack Whitehall tweeted yesterday.
Matt Lucas, who launched Little Britain on BBC Three said the move would be “really bad for new comedy”. Meanwhile, Russell said “It’s not necessarily a youth channel, but it is younger-skewed. I don’t see why it should be cut because people who are younger have quieter voices in the political process.”
A petition organised by viewers of the station has already garnered over 60,000 signatures.
“BBC Three has produced exciting, original television programming for 16-34 year olds since 2002,” the petition reads. “It has been a launchpad for programmes like Being Human, Torchwood, Russell Howard’s Good News, The Mighty Boosh, Bad Education, Gavin And Stacey, and Little Britain.”
It continues: “Unlike other BBC channels it takes risks. It offers live debates and documentaries. It is also the channel for young people to go to for live music – something which is often relegated from the other main BBC television channels.”