And The verdict is in. The BBC Trust, after an extended consultation and review process, has issued their final decison on the BBC’s plans to shut down BBC Three as linear channel and move it online. The Trust has broadly approved the plans, which will see BBC Three move online by March 2016.
“Today is just the beginning for BBC Three and our plans to transform our offer for young people”, said Damian Kavanagh, Controller of BBC Three. “We have lots of new content coming in 2016 and exciting new ways of delivering it in development. We will now set about launching a digital-first BBC Three in early 2016.”
While the plans have been approved, the BBC Trust has laid down a number of stipulations to the BBC Executive. Said stipulations include: requiring BBC Three long-form shows get a repeat broadcast on BBC One and/or BBC Two on an ongoing basis effective from the closure of BBC Three as a linear channel; that those broadcasts occur at a variety of times across the schedule; and the BBC One and BBC Two must also commission programmes that are 1) aimed at a younger audience and 2) take risks and introduce new talent and ideas.
“The decision to close a TV channel is a difficult one, and one we have not taken lightly. The BBC must adapt with its audiences; the evidence is very clear that younger audiences are watching more online and less linear TV”, said Suzanna Taverne, Chair of the BBC Trust’s Services Committee. “The plans enable the BBC to deliver more distinctive content online, while bearing down on costs; to address concerns about the impact of moving BBC Three online, we have set new requirements for programmes for younger audiences on BBC One and Two.”
Elsewhere, alongside rubber-stamping BBC Three’s move online, the BBC Trust has has also approved plans to extend the hours of CBBC to 9pm, and to develop iPlayer beyond a catchup service, to include online-first and third party content. They previously rejected plans to launch a one-hour time-shift service for BBC One. The BBC Executive is now required to issue a proposal for the use of the spectrum vacated by BBC Three and an updated on negotiations on content rights before the launch of BBC Three Online.