BBC Three is set to disappear from TV screens after the BBC Trust backed plans to turn it an online streaming service.
Last year BBC Director-General Tony Hall announced plans to move the channel online, a move he said the would allow £30m to be invested in drama on BBC One which had been “falling off in a way I was not satisfied with”. A further £30m will be spent on BBC Three branded programmes which will be aired on BBC One and BBC Two after debuting on iPlayer
Managers also said broadcasting capacity freed up by the move would be used to extend CBBC by an hour to 20.00 and to provide a BBC One+1 service in the evening.
Despite a vocal campaign by fans of the channel, on-screen talent and programme makers, the BBC Trust today announced it had provisionally approved the plans for the extended CBBC and move of BBC Three online but rejected the BBC One+1 proposal which it said “have limited public value”.
It said viewers aged 16 to 34 are already “far more likely” than other groups to watch online video “and the BBC is right to anticipate the need to serve this audience in new ways.”
BBC Trust Chairman Rona Fairhead added: “It is clear that the long-term future of broadcasting is online and the BBC needs to find new and exciting ways to help audiences make that transition, while bearing down on costs overall.”
However BBC managers have been asked to ensure that younger audiences continue to be served by the broadcaster’s other TV channels.
A spokesperson for the BBC executive said: “We welcome the Trust’s provisional conclusion, which is the next step in delivering our vision for a new BBC Three.
“With a frozen licence fee and the BBC’s income cut by 26 per cent we have had to make some very difficult choices, however our plans will allow us to innovate with new ideas and new forms of content for younger audiences.
“We’ll now consider the areas the Trust have asked us to address and respond in due course.”