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BBC3 consultation: “Are we losing young?”

The BBC Trust has launched its second public consultation on the BBC Executive’s proposals to close BBC Three as a broadcast channel and reinvent it online; launch a +1 channel for BBC One; evolve BBC iPlayer; and extend the hours of CBBC.

The Trust published its provisional conclusions on these proposals in June, and gave provisional approval to the plans for BBC Three subject to conditions; provisional approval for the plans for iPlayer and CBBC; and provisionally rejected the BBC One +1 proposal.

The latest consultation, which runs until 30 September, seeks views from the public and stakeholders on these provisional conclusions and whether appropriate conditions have been imposed. Proposed amendments for the relevant licences for BBC services affected by the proposed changes have also been published.

In its provisional conclusions in June the Trust also proposed three conditions in relation to the BBC Three proposal, designed to address concerns about the short-term impact of the change on younger audiences and the potential impact on the BBC’s ability to try out new ideas and develop new talent. The proposed conditions were:

  • A more carefully managed transition from broadcast TV to an online service, to raise awareness of the change;
  • Clearer commitments to programmes on BBC One and/or BBC Two that appeal to a younger audience, including the use of those channels to continue broadcasting long-form BBC Three programmes; and
  • A commitment to a space on broadcast television (not just on BBC Three online) where risks can be taken with new talent and new ideas of the sort that BBC Three has been successful in developing.

The Trust asked the BBC Executive to provide further, detailed information on the impacts of the proposed conditions, and this information has also been published.

The BBC is said to be planning to sub let BBC3 vacant slots on DTH and DTT. It will also treble its third party (paid for) advertising spend to raise awareness of the switch to online.

BBC Trust Chairman Rona Fairhead said the Trust’s provisional conclusions sought to ensure that the BBC’s services remain distinctive, innovative and relevant to all its audiences, while working within ever tighter funding constraints. Over the next few weeks, we’ll gather more views about the BBC’s proposals and the mitigations we’ve put forward to address concerns raised. We will carefully consider the responses and all of the evidence before making our final decision.”

The Trust is also proposing to carry out a service licence review within a year of publication of its final decision, focusing on whether the BBC has succeeded in maintaining its appeal to younger audiences. It would particularly look at the BBC’s overall reach to 16 to 24 year olds and, if the BBC Three online service is approved by the Trust, its audience numbers and reach.

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