If you’re a fan of tv, and as you’re here, i’m assuming you are, you will have seen the recent news that BBC is planning to close BBC Three as a broadcast channel. This has of course resulted in a lot of outrage, petitions, and general complains, similar to those when they announced plans to close Radio 6. However, unlike the proposed (and abandoned) Radio 6 closure, BBC Three isn’t vanishing in it’s entirety. The plan is to move it to an online format, involving the iPlayer. And really, is that such a bad thing?..
One of the constant discussions that pops up when it comes to the current state of TV is the fact that more and more people are watching online. And the majority of those people are of a younger generation. The BBC needs to cut around £100 million from it’s budget in this round of cuts, and the removal of BBC as a broadcast channel will save £30 million in one move. The channel has been a great breeding ground for innovative comedy and drama over the year. Being Human, Little Britain and the recent, and hugely entertaining Uncle to name but a few. And, although the move online will see it take a large cut (from £85 million to £25 million) in programming budget, as an online channel it can focus on producing quality shows aimed at a younger audience, without having to create masses of ‘filler’ shows to pack out a broadcast schedule.
So what will happen to the rest of the money? They’ve announced that some is going to extend the CBBC channels air time by 1 hour. Some will also go to the creation of a BBC1+1 channel. The rest will go towards BBC1’s drama budget.
The other question being asked is, why BBC Three and not BBC Four? Well, part of that has to do with the age of the target audience. As I mentioned earlier, the people watching online are predominately younger, where as BBC Four has an older demographic. Secondly, BBC Three had a larger budget overall, so out of the 2 channels, it seems to more sensible one to shift online. Not that this means BBC Four’s future is assured. There are still more cuts to come, and out of all the BBC channels, that one would seem the most likely target if they decide another needs to be taken to the woodshed…
Overall, I can’t help but think, this is probably a sensible move for the BBC. Unfortunate as it is, they do have to make cutbacks somewhere, and whilst this is a bold, and possibly not popular move right now, I think in the long term it’s a good way of protecting other areas of the corporation from coming under the knife. It helps protect BBC Drama overall, whilst leaving BBC Three, as an online brand. to focus on creating the innovative drama and comedy it’s become know for. They’ve also said those shows the new online brand produces won’t just stay online, as they will also be aired in later timeslots on BBC One and Two, which further takes the pressure of those channels to find shows to fill those slots.
Is the removal of BBC Three as a broadcast channel a bad thing? In the long term, i’d say probably not.