BBC3 'to be axed' – but BBC4 is safe for now

BBC three 3

Tony Hall aims to save the corporation £100m with closure of youth-oriented BBC3

LAST UPDATED AT 16:31 ON Wed 5 Mar 2014

TONY HALL, director general of the BBC, is to announce plans to close the broadcaster's youth-oriented TV channel BBC3 after 11 years of service.

The closure of the channel comes as a "reprieve" for its arts-inclined sibling BBC4, which some had suggested would be axed and merged with BBC 2, The Guardian says.

Once announced, the plan will still need to be ratified by the BBC Trust. Overturning the recommendation would not be unprecedented – four years ago the Trust overruled former director general Mark Thomson's plans to shut down Radio 6 Music, after a huge public outcry.

The national broadcaster hopes that the move will save £100m, allowing it to focus on original programming and further investment in future technology.

Speaking at the Oxford Media Convention this week, Hall said he was prepared to make a "hard decision," the Daily Mail reports.

"We decided we'd reached the point where salami-slicing would affect quality and distinctiveness. Rather than seek to preserve a less good version of our past, we decided to focus on what we do best: from drama to taking iPlayer into the next generation," Hall said.

The BBC needs to find further savings as part of a programme of cuts – known as Delivering Quality First – that was begun by Mark Thomson to save £700m.

A collection of stars have urged the corporation not to close BBC3. Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw, presenter Richard Bacon, and comedians Jack Whitehall and Matt Lucas, tweeted their support for the channel.

Lucas, whose most successful show Little Britain was first aired on BBC3, said the closure 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 and drama."

Comedian Russell Kane said: "If BBC3 is really under threat, so is much of the UK's new comedy. This place is the crucible of upcoming comedic artists. Yet again, young people don't get a proper voice in the cutbacks."

But the channel has also come under fire for artificially buoying its ratings with reruns of EastEnders and Hollywood movies, plus lowbrow programming with shows such as Snog, Marry, Avoid and My Manboobs and Me, The Guardian reports.

The BBC has yet to comment, insisting that "no decisions have been made." · 

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