Take a deep breath, BBC3 fans. Rumours are rife this morning that the channel’s days are numbered…
It all began last week with BBC director general Tony Hall revealing at the Oxford Media Convention that “hard decisions” are imminent as the Beeb has £100m savings a year to make – not exactly small change and something he claimed would not be achievable by simply “salami slicing”, ie. making small reductions across the budget.
Nope, from what the BBC boss has been saying, it’s going to be one mega axing that will make up the majority of the total savings with speculation abounding that it’s BBC3 for the chop.
The whisperings have been met with outrage from some quarters, with Twitter already mobilising supporters via the currently trending #SaveBBC3 hashtag. Those who want to keep the channel point to comedy commissions such as Little Britain, Gavin & Stacey, The Mighty Boosh and, more recently, 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.
Detractors cite the shock tactics of shows with titles like F**k off I’m Fat, 34 Stone Teenager Revisited and My Big Breasts and Me, along with supposedly air-head output like Snog Marry Avoid and the TV station’s ratings-garnering strategies of re-running EastEnders and frequent repeats of former blockbuster movies.
One possible solution to the Beeb’s financial problems is to make BBC3 online-only, keeping it alive through BBC iPlayer – the Corporation’s streaming service which already premieres all the channel’s comedy. However, the BBC is so far keeping schtum with a spokesman stating: “Tony Hall set out some of the very real challenges the BBC faces at his speech in Oxford. He made clear that we will face tough choices about our budgets, and while nothing is off the table, no decisions have been made.”
That said, campaigners are wasting no time anticipating the decision, with calls to replicate the response that saved BBC Radio 6 Music when it faced the axe back in 2010.
But we want to know what you think. Is BBC3 the sad but necessary victim of inevitable budget cuts or should its record of award-winning content count for more? Would you miss the channel if it were shut down? Vote in our poll below…