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March 6, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Confronted by rising costs and a flat license fee, the BBC has decided to shut down its youth-skewing channel BBC3 next year, it said today (Thursday). The closure, said BBC Director General Tony Hall, will mark the first time in the publicly supported broadcaster’s history that it has ever shut down a TV channel. While the BBC has been attempting to trim costs, Hall said, “the BBC has taken incremental change as far as it can. Something has to give.” In this case, it’s BBC3, which Hall indicated, will be “reinvented” on the Internet. He noted that 25 percent of the channel’s audience are 16-24 year-olds, “the most mobile and ready to move to an online world.” Longform programs on the channel, he said, will move to BBC1 or BBC2. In a manifest effort to put a positive face on the cutback, Hall said, “It will not just be a TV channel distributed online — it will be an opportunity to look at new forms, formats, different durations, and more individualized and interactive content. It will play to BBC3’s strengths, offer something distinctive and new, and enhance the BBC’s reputation with young audiences.” He said that the shutdown will save the BBC over $80 million a year, more than half of which will be earmarked for drama on BBC1. The rest, he indicated, will be used to offset costs and ensure that the BBC will not have to keep “salami slicing” its budget and requiring its staff to “keep doing more with less.”