BBC3’s fate appears to be sealed with BBC director of television Danny Cohen insisting that the Corporation's plans to abolish it remain unchanged despite 200,000 signatories to the Save BBC3 petition.
Cohen used the launch today of the BBC’s revamped iPlayer to say that, despite the howls of protest over plans to make it an online only channel by 2015, the proposal would still be going to the BBC Trust for approval.
“It’s a difficult moment, it’s a sad moment,” said Cohen, adding that the BBC was forced to make the move because of financial constraints. “It is something we would have probably chosen to have done in three or four years’ time,” he said.
Asked by RadioTimes.com whether the channel would eventually wither and die once it becomes iPlayer only, Ralph Rivera, the BBC’s director of future media, insisted that the redesign unveiled today has “dialed up” the power of the brand and that BBC3 would be very visible on iPlayer.
“[BBC3] will live as one of the core channels and brands on iPlayer,” he said, adding that its logo would now appear on screen on all BBC3 programmes.
The enhanced iPlayer unveiled today will have a greater range of content commissioned specifically for the on-demand service, including original drama and comedy short films.
It will also have revamped design, updated mobile and tablet apps and new features such as more advanced recommendations, smarter search and image-led navigation.
And it has abolished what head of iPlayer Dan Taylor today called the “much maligned” feature that asks users if they would like to repeat a programme they've just watched. The playback service has been improved and recommendations instead take viewers to forthcoming episodes of the shows.
A new favourites section, that updates with the latest episodes of a programme available, has also been introduced.
Meanwhile, there will be "collections" of curated programming on iPlayer linked to particular national, sporting or cultural events and anniversaries or BBC seasons.
Among the first is a BBC4: Great War Interviews Collection, featuring 13 previously unseen interviews with first world war veterans and civilians, curated by Sir Max Hastings and available on iPlayer from today [Tuesday].