BBC3: the TV channel that’s now an … ‘online first destination’

The BBC is putting a positive spin on the axing of its TV youth channel and slashing of its budget as it becomes a website ‘freed from the schedule’

Age: 13 years.

Appearance: Pink, in your face.

Eurgh! Yeah, that’s right! “BBC3 is a badge of quality and shorthand for content that will stimulate emotions and provoke reactions!” says controller Damian Kavanagh.

I thought it was the at-times-good, at-times-awkward marriage of BBC Television and yoof kulcha? It can be two things. And now it can be anything, because an exciting new dawn beckons online!

What kind of new dawn? I thought their budget had been cut from £85m to £25m? Well yes, but to quote from the BBC again: “On Tuesday 16 February, BBC3 will switch from a linear broadcast channel to an online first destination.”

From a what to a what now? From a TV channel to a website.

Isn’t it already a website? Most of its shows are on iPlayer. Yes, I suppose. Although the website will now feature a Tumblr-ish page called The Daily Drop and another section called The Best Of, which will host original programmes.

So they’re changing the website. Yes. And they’ve “announced a range of comedy, drama and documentary commissions and formats featuring new talent, new writers and new directors”.

Which all channels do all the time. Yes.

So the actual new dawn in this case is being taken off TV? Yes. Although Kavanagh doesn’t see it as a question of being “taken off”. It’s more about being “freed from the constraints of”. For instance, they can now mix up blogs and websites and videos as they please. “Because we’re freed from the schedule, we can use whatever format and platform is most appropriate,” he says.

Except TV. Yes, except TV obviously. Although all BBC3 originals will later be repeated on BBC1 or BBC2.

So it’s going to be a website where some of BBC1 and BBC2’s lesser programmes get uploaded early? I suppose you could look at it that way if you’re determined to be negative. But we’re entering a new era for media, in case you hadn’t noticed. Getting the right balance is tricky for the BBC, like it is for the Independent.

Do say: “The shackles are off when it comes to creativity.” (Damian Kavanagh)

Don’t say: “Here are some extra shackles when it comes to cash.” (The director general)

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