Widespread rumours that BBC3 is to be axed are about to become reality according to a reporter at the Corporation.
An official announcement will come tomorrow, confirmed media and arts correspondent David Sillito via Twitter, and will lead to BBC3 shows being made available solely via online streaming service BBC iPlayer.
BBC director general Tony Hall revealed last week that “hard decisions” would need to be taken as the Corporation sought to make annual savings of £100 million. He said piecemeal “salami slicing” would not be sufficient to claw back the cash, giving credence to earlier rumours that either BBC4 or BBC3 would be in the firing line. And reports this week have placed the youth-focused entertainment channel squarely in Hall’s sights.
Supporters of the channel, including the talent behind some of its most successful shows, have since been urging against the move, using social media to muster an online campaign.
“#BBC3 serves people not catered for by the rest of the Corporation” tweeted presenter Jake Humphrey. “Innovative, brave, creative. We should be really worried if it does go.”
“I really hope reports that the BBC may kill BBC3 are just rumours,” added Jack Whitehall, star of BBC3 comedy Bad Education. “Their support of new comedy in particular is vital!”
Chris Chibnall, former showrunner on Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood, and creator of acclaimed ITV drama Broadchurch, tweeted “Uncle, Bad Education, Cuckoo, Revolution Will Be Televised, Him and Her, (RTS nom’d today) In The Flesh, The Fades, Being Human… #SaveBBC3.” And presenter and DJ Jameela Jamil posted “#SaveBBC3 because it’s just about the last thing left made for young people.”
Fans of the channel can take heart from the fact that Hall’s plans will require approval from the BBC Trust, which reversed the decision to axe alternative radio station BBC 6 Music in 2010 following a high-profile campaign by listeners.
BBC3 is responsible for such comedy hits as Little Britain, Gavin & Stacey, Him & Her and Bad Education, as well as original drama like Being Human, Torchwood, The Fades and In The Flesh, and the Bafta Award-winning documentary Our War, but has been criticised for relying on reruns of EastEnders and frequent repeats of blockbuster movies for ratings.