Changes to programme output

BBC Three to become online-only channel

BBC 3BBC Three is to move online in January next year under plans provisionally approved by the BBC Trust.

The trust has set a number of conditions on the change, including a commitment from BBC One and Two to broadcast more BBC Three programmes aimed at 16-34 year olds.

It has rejected proposals for a new BBC One+1 channel, showing programmes an hour after the scheduled output. Children’s channel CBBC, which has suffered a decline in viewers, will see its running time being extended by two hours until 9pm.

The trust said it was clear “the long-term future of broadcasting is online” and that younger viewers – especially those under 25 – were already more likely to be watching TV that way.

However it acknowledged that for those who do not have access to broadband, television was still important.

But as part of the greater focus of online viewing, the iPlayer will evolve from a catch-up service to one offering online-first content.

It said the new-look BBC Three would be “more distinctive” and will spend more of its budget on documentaries rather than low-brow programming.

BBC Three currently has 11.2 million viewers a week and reaches 25% of 16-24 year olds. Among its more popular programmes is Bad Education featuring Jack Whitehall (pictured).

BBC Trust chairman Rona Fairhead said: “We know young audiences are already moving towards the online future, but we do recognise that in the short term some of them will feel the immediate impact of the BBC Three proposals.

“We are therefore asking the BBC for commitments to ensure it uses the full range of its television services to better serve young people and others who make up BBC Three’s audience.”



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