5 Reasons why BBC3 should still be an on air channel

Channel set to be axed

Channel set to be axed

In an announcement due tomorrow (March 6th), Tony Hall – the current Director General of the BBC is expected to announce that BBC3 will cease on-air broadcasting and become an online only channel. This is surely the first step to reducing BBC3’s presence so that in a very short space of time we will lose BBC3’s innovative and creative output which has seen shows such as ‘Russell Howard’s Good News’, ‘Torchwood’, ‘Gavin & Stacey’, ‘Bad Education and many more flourish under the channel’s creative hub.

BBC3 was first launched in 2003 as a replacement for the short-lived BBC Choice. The aim was to provide innovative content and provide a service to younger audiences, most notably the 16-34 demographic that at the time which were felt to be overlooked by the BBC following a gravitation of BBC2 towards an older arts style audience. Whilst some speculate that BBC3’s movement to an online channel could lead to BBC2 being retooled to become more reminiscent of its 1990s self, nutleyone takes a look at 5 reasons why BBC3 should still stay on the air.

1. BBC3 takes risks


Can you imagine shows such as ‘Uncle’, ‘Bad Education’ or ‘Ja’ime: Private School Girl’ being on any other BBC channel? They would never have made it onto BBC1 because they aren’t mainstream enough. They would never make it onto BBC2 because they aren’t mainstream enough. In short BBC3 has allowed the BBC to take massive risks with a wide variety of programming in terms of both comedy and drama. Where E4 offers US imports, and ITV2 gives us TOWIE – BBC3 genuinely demonstrates in ethos and schedule there is room for ideas that might not work, or aren’t typically ‘BBC’ and in turn they have captured the imagination of their demographic.

2. BBC3’s demographic tend not to watch BBC1, 2, 4, CBeebies or CBBC.

If we look at BBC TV services across the board, the 16-34 demographic is less catered for than any other demographic on the BBC. Therefore there are other places the BBC could quite feasibly make cuts. Is it totally necessary to have both CBeebies and CBBC for example? There are other children’s television channels available and quite frankly there is no reason why the BBC should operate 2 glorified television creches 7am-7pm everyday.

Additionally what about BBC2 and BBC4? Whilst there is an understanding they do fulfil some of the BBC’s remit to the arts, and BBC4 does show archive editions of Top of the Pops (providing they don’t contain a certain celebrity or two) – there is a perception that they do cover a similar demographic. Why can’t BBC4 go online only, and BBC3 stay as it is? Especially given a fair number of BBC4 shows would suit BBC2’s current channel output.

3. BBC don’t show Family Guy and American Dad online


The argument had to be wheeled out sooner or later. 11pm on BBC3 is Family Guy time, just the same as 6pm on Channel 4 is time for The Simpsons. Try to download or stream these shows online and it simply doesn’t work because these channels do not have the rights to distribute them online. This would mean that we would lose these shows ‘free to air’, especially as there is no home for them on BBC1, and lets be honest ‘Newsnight’ isn’t going anywhere soon from BBC2. BBC4? Forget it!

4. BBC3’s demographic is the next generation of license fee payers

This year the BBC’s share of the 16-24 demographic rose 3% to 7.7%. This is vital to the future of the BBC because the future license fee payers need to feel that the BBC is a value for money service. If the BBC axe the one channel that caters for this demographic then that demographic will question the rationale for the BBC because it offers nothing to them. Even if the BBC captures their viewing in later years with the odd programme, they may still feel the BBC is not fit for purpose. Therefore in axing BBC3, the BBC maybe signing their own death warrant another 10-15 years down the line.

5. BBC3 nurtures new talent

There are many stars that have started their careers on BBC3 throughout the last eleven years. Not only does BBC3 take risks in terms of the programmes it commissions, but it also nurtures the young talent it finds to help mould and shape the next generation of writers, comedians and so on.

If you wish to help save BBC3 from the axe, the petition can be found here¬†and don’t forget to use #SaveBBC3 on all your tweets!