BBC Three Set To Become “Online Only” Channel

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The BBC is set to announce that BBC Three will become an “online only” channel, it has emerged.

Early this morning, Broadcast reported that BBC Director General Tony Hall was considering shutting down BBC Three as a traditional broadcaster and instead moving all of the channel’s content to the iPlayer. It is now understood that the BBC plans to formally announce these changes tomorrow, though before they could take effect the proposals would require approval from the BBC Trust.

The news follows on from a recent speech by BBC Director General Tony Hall in which he revealed the corporation needed to make cuts of £100 million. It was following that speech that rumours began to circulate that to meet those cuts, either BBC Three of BBC Four could be facing the axe.

It also comes after BBC Three has seen success with debuting comedies and select dramas online via iPlayer ahead of their linear broadcasts. The notion of BBC Three closing is a real concern across all sections of the industry and until more details are forthcoming (read: tomorrow) a number of key questions will continue to loom large.

With the operating costs of BBC Three at just over £30 million, the move to online-only is not likely to create enough of a budget reduction without also touching the content budget. How much will that budget be slashed? With writers fees for online considerably less than TV, will BBC Three still attract top original productions? Will a reduced budget mandate cutting acquisitions such as Orphan Black, Family Guy and Wilfred?

TVWise will bring you more on the situation tomorrow, once the BBC formally announces its plans for BBC Three.