The BBC Trust has responded to reports that the corporation is planning to close BBC Three as a broadcast TV channel in Autumn 2015.
The governing body has said they will prioritise the views of audiences as they consider the proposed changes which are expected to save the BBC over £50m.
The Trust’s full statement reads:
“The Trust’s priority will be to listen to the views of audiences as we consider proposed changes to BBC Three and other services.
“Any major changes to existing BBC services require approval from the Trust. In this case, we expect to conduct a public value test, including a public consultation, so licence fee payers will have the opportunity to have their say in the process.”
When the Executive Board proposes significant changes to the UK public services, the Trust, in its regulatory role, must subject them to full and public scrutiny through a Public Value Test (PVT).
A Public Value Test has four stages:
- An assessment of the likely public value of the proposal, carried out by the Trust
- A market impact assessment, carried out by Ofcom, which assesses the extent of any likely impact on markets relevant to the proposed change
- The Trust considers and publishes the outcome of both assessments, and reaches provisional conclusions regarding the proposed change
- The Trust consults on the provisional conclusions before reaching a final conclusion on the proposed change.
BBC Three was launched in February 2003 and has since developed a leading reputation for new UK comedy, current affairs and documentaries targeted at a young adult audience.
The brand is expected to survive as a “new and innovative online service” with the spectrum freed-up by the broadcast channel being used to extend CBBC’s transmission hours and to provide a BBC One +1 service.
The planned changes have left some well-known faces unimpressed with Little Britain star Matt Lucas describing the decision as “really bad for new comedy”.
Prior to the BBC confirming the axe rumours, Lucas tweeted: “Hearing horrible rumours about the possible closure of BBC3. This would be really bad for new comedy. Like, REALLY bad.
“Little Britain, Gavin & Stacey, Torchwood, Being Human, Mighty Boosh, Pramface, Ideal – BBC3 is the home of new comedy & drama #SaveBBC3.”
Dermot O’Leary also expressed his disappointment at the decision during an interview at the launch of Channel 4′s Space Season.
“BBC Three is a really important nursery for talent and of course they should keep it going,” O’Leary said, adding “It is a huge success story, you only need to look at what has come from it. It is nonsensical.”