The BBC Trust is expected to make an initial decision on the future of BBC3 in June.
Last Tuesday a group of #savebbc3 campaigners headed to London to make some noise outside Broadcasting House, before heading down to BBC Trust to hand in a 271,000-name petition.
The rally was organised to tie-in with the last day of the official BBC Trust consultation, which lasted for 28 days. The BBC Trust had been consulting over the future of the channel which would be closed on television, and replaced with a video streaming service online. The BBC would use the freed-up space on television to create a BBC1+1, and would extend the hours of CBBC.
After handing in the petition to the BBC Trust’s Head of Business Strategy, Jon Cowdock, confirmed the decision was “not a fait-accompli”.
He said: “We will take a view based on the evidence. People who have signed this have not wasted their time. This is an important contribution.”
The Trust has since confirmed to the #SaveBBC3 campaigners that they expect to report back on the BBC proposals in June, with a timetable currently under review of Ofcom and the Trustees. After the initial decision there will be another four week consultation before the Trust has the final say.
Jono Read, the creator of the #SaveBBC3 petition and campaign, believed the campaign was getting a fair hearing. He said: “It’s been a long process since the Director General announced his initial plans for BBC3 last March, but we feel our views are starting to be listened to by the BBC and the Trust. The BBC Trust say they’ve not yet made their mind up on the future of BBC3, and if they want to truly reflect the opinions of viewers they will tell the BBC to think again.
We are not going to back down until the BBC rethinks their plans. Even the bosses themselves admit the move could be seen as premature, and that there is little appetite for this move.”
Campaigners’ criticisms of the proposals include the fact the plans will be subjected to £30m of programming cuts, and that much of the investment will be spent on shorter YouTube-style video clips instead of long-form content popular on BBC3 on TV. They believe an online BBC3 will also be less accessible with some fans unable to access fast internet speeds for iPlayer, or 3G and 4G mobile phone signals to stream video.
If approved BBC3 would be taken off-air in Autumn 2015.