The campaign to save BBC3 from being moved online is to receive a major boost today when a host of top actors and TV talent hand over an open letter to the BBC Trust demanding that BBC3 is kept as a broadcast channel.
Poldark star Aidan Turner and scores of other actors including Broadchurch actress Olivia Colman and Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe have added their weight to the campaign to save BBC3 in a letter that will be delivered to BBC bosses.
Other signatories include Russell Howard, Jack Whitehall, Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Greg Davies, Noel Fielding, Imelda Staunton, James Nesbitt and Maxine Peake.
The open letter to the chair of the BBC Trust Rona Fairhead and BBC director-general Tony Hall calls on the BBC Trust to reject proposals by BBC management to close BBC3 as a broadcast channel. The plans have to be ratified by the Trust if they are to go ahead.
Their letter argues that the proposals to make the channel’s programmes only available online would “remove at a stroke a vitally important outlet for new talent and innovative ideas”.
Describing the channel as a place where “some of the most successful and influential names currently working in British television were given their first chance”, the letter adds: “BBC3 has cost the licence fee payer over £1bn over the last 10 years. Closure will write off this investment, which would be unthinkable in a commercial environment.”
It says British broadcasting is facing a “tipping point” and concludes: “Either the BBC can continue to cater for an increasingly elderly audience, or it can take the lead and safeguard its position as a beloved and relevant public broadcaster by investing in the talent and the audiences who are the building blocks of the future. Safeguarding the future of BBC3 as it currently exists is the key to this.”
Writers Jimmy McGovern, Andrew Davies, Alan Bleasdale, William Boyd and Hanif Kureishi have also signed the letter.
Plans to move BBC3 online have been pushed back until 2016 because the consultation process has taken longer than anticipated.
An interim ajudication on the future of the channel is expected sometime this summer with a final decision ratified in autumn. If approved, BBC3 will close as a broadcast channel in January next year.
The Trust’s public consultation received 24,000 submissions, with an undisclosed number of industry figures – believed to be in the hundreds – adding their weight to these opinions, all of which will be considered. After its findings are published, the BBC Trust will oversee a further 28-day consultation before a final decision is made.
A senior BBC executive has told RadioTimes.com that the channel’s closure is likely to be waived through by the Trust but that the regulator may insist that the channel’s slated online budget is increased.
According to the executive, a number of BBC programme-makers hope that the the Trust will only give the proposed move online the go-ahead if the programming budget is increased from the BBC’s current proposed figure of £30m a year to a figure approaching its current spend, which currently stands at £55m.