Director General Tony Hall’s plan to close BBC3 as a broadcast channel and move it online is “not a foregone conclusion”, according to BBC Trust member Richard Ayre.
Hall’s proposal is yet to go in front of the Trust and Ayre warned that it would be subject to rigorous scrutiny requiring evidence that the Corporation would continue to reach BBC3’s target audience of young adults.
“It will have to be a detailed proposal, I have some searching questions,” said Ayre, speaking at the publication of a Trust report today. “Not least will be – given the difficulty of reaching young adults with journalism – how does the BBC propose to ensure, through [putting BBC3 content] online or that and other online initiatives, [that] the BBC is going to continue to reach those individuals as it does with BBC3 [as a television channel].
“I don’t think you should regard it as a foregone conclusion. It is not a foregone conclusion”.
Ayre, a former Deputy Chief Executive of BBC News, said that BBC3 had been “remarkably effective” at communicating current affairs stories to its audience through its regular 60 Seconds bulletins and other programmes.
Along with its entertainment content, BBC3 is known for its documentary output, such as Bafta-winning series Our War, following young British soldiers on the frontline in Afghanistan.
Ayre said the Trust expected to receive Hall’s proposal – which will include plans to launch catch-up channel BBC1+1, and funnel a chunk of BBC3’s programme-making budget into BBC1 drama – “just before or just after the summer break”.