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Producers’ offer for BBC3 dismissed

The BBC has poured cold water on the suggestion that UK prodcos Avalon and Hat Trick could buy youth-skewing channel BBC3 and secure its future as a linear channel.

The UK pubcaster launched a public consultation today on its previously announced plans to move the channel wholly online, saving the corporation £50m (US$85.6m) a year.

But the move, led by director general Tony Hall and director of television Danny Cohen, has met opposition among the UK indie sector. And now Avalon, which produces the channel’s long-running Russell Howard’s Good News series, and Hat Trick, known for BBC1 panel comedy Have I Got News For You and many others, say they want to buy the channel and run it privately.

The Guardian reports that Avalon joint MD Jon Thoday and Hat Trick MD Jimmy Mulville will make a formal approach to the broadcaster and plan to up spending on programming to £100m a year while retaining the channel’s current youth-skewing remit.

However, the BBC appeared to quash any hopes Thoday and Mulville have of a takeover with a tweet from its official press office account, which said: “BBC3 not for sale because it’s not closing – proposal to move it online is part of bold move to reinvent BBC’s offer for young people.”

The BBC Trust’s consultation into proposals that would see the coporation’s VoD iPlayer service morph from a catch-up into one that offers online-first BBC content will last four weeks. It forms part of a six-month ‘public value test’ the trust is running on the idea, which if given the go-ahead could come into effect by the end of the year.

BBC3 controller Damian Kavanagh posted a blog on the corporation’s site earlier today reiterating that the channel was not closing and not for sale. He claimed that the move would see BBC3 available to a wider audience than is currently the case, with programmes being aired online and on the two main BBC channels.

Kavanagh said: “Freed from the linear schedule, new BBC3 would be able to make content younger audiences tell us they want. We would be able do this faster, get it out quicker, and let our audiences know where it is in new ways. We would make content for the places they are: on Snapchat and What’s App, on Tumblr and Facebook, on Twitter and YouTube.

“Let’s be honest… we are proposing this now because of the financial constraints the BBC faces but that’s not the whole picture. It’s also my belief this is the right thing to do in the long term. We’d be kidding ourselves if we ignored the fact the BBC3 audience is online, and increasingly so. They just are. This proposal meets how young people live their lives.”


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