Entertainment & Arts

BBC Three move 'delayed until 2016'

Russell Howard
Image caption BBC Three is home to shows such as Russell Howard's Good News

Plans to move BBC Three online have been delayed as the corporation waits for the BBC Trust to approve its proposals.

The channel was originally supposed to become an online-only brand in autumn 2015, but its boss said the shift would not now occur until "after Christmas".

"We won't be rushed. We will do what's right for our fans, not to satisfy deadlines," said Damian Kavanagh.

The Trust is expected to deliver a decision on the move around September.

It is currently running a public value test, after which it will publish provisional conclusions and seek comment from the public.

"Once we have the Trust's final decision, we'll start doing more online and in social [media], building up to a move online," Kavanagh told Broadcast magazine.

"You simply can't turn around something as groundbreaking as this overnight."

Image caption Damian Kavanagh said plans to move BBC Three online would not be rushed

The youth channel was earmarked for closure as a linear TV channel by BBC director general Tony Hall last year.

Under current proposals, it will be remodelled as an online platform, offering tailored content based around comedy and thought-provoking programming.

Programmes will not just live on iPlayer, but will be distributed on third party sites including YouTube and Facebook.

The removal of the channel from digital terrestrial television will make room for a BBC One+1 service, while CBBC will be extended by two hours in the evening.

But critics have said the delay in approving the proposals have turned BBC Three into a "zombie channel", with confusion over its future leading to a "logjam" in commissioning new programmes.

Jimmy Mulville, managing director of Have I Got News For You production company Hat Trick, argued that the channel was already being dismantled.

"Already assets are being taken off BBC Three. They are destroying the value of BBC Three as we speak," he told the Guardian.

"They are actually setting up and putting resources into a BBC online channel which is yet to be ratified by the trust. This speaks to the very heart of how the BBC is governed."

Mulville, along with Jon Thoday of Avalon productions, has approached the BBC Trust with a plan to buy BBC Three and run it independently.

The corporation has insisted the channel "is not for sale".

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