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BBC Three channel to close and move to iPlayer only service

The BBC has outlined some controversial cost cutting plans today that will see the very popular BBC Three channel get the axe, with its content being moved online to the BBC iPlayer platform.

The BBC’s media correspondent David Sillito has said that an official statement about the BBC Three plans will be announced on Thursday (tomorrow) after the BBC’s director general Tony Hall explained that “tough choices” would have to be made if the corporation was to meet its savings target and that they “are in the final stages of a budget process to find an extra £100m of savings”.

It’s now looking like these cuts will involve the popular channel that provides much of the BBCs comedy and young adult programming. Shows like Him & Her, Sun, Sea and Suspicious Parents and Don’t Tell the Bride are some of the channel’s highlights in recent years, but massive smashes such as Gavin & Stacey and Little Britain are typical of the content which propelled the channel to its well-loved status.

The proposal to close the channel will not be a final cut as the BBC is looking to make BBC Three an online-only channel that would somehow still serve up fresh content but this time only available via the iPlayer service. This fits in well with BBC Three’s 16-34 age demographic but it could be seen as a major blow to UK comedy.

The decision is far from final, as before any channels can be axed the plans will have to pass the BBC Board of Directors. A similar fate was doled out to BBC Radio 6 Music a few years ago, but thanks to a massive backlash from fans and supporters the Beeb was forced to change its mind and keep the station.

There is already a #SaveBBC3 movement gathering steam on Twitter and seeing as the BBC is funded by the UK taxpayer, a major change-up such as this seems unlikely to go ahead, although if the BBC is successful it could be a major change in how the iPlayer service works going forward as the channel goes web-only.

For more information check out the BBC News website.