'Perverse' move says BBC3 chief

BBC director general Tony Hall confirmed plans to make digital channel BBC3 an online-only service next year

BBC director general Tony Hall confirmed plans to make digital channel BBC3 an online-only service next year

First published in National News © by

The man in charge of BBC3 has said the decision to move the channel online is "perverse".

Zai Bennett, who took over as controller of the digital channel in 2011, said it had won "numerous" awards "on a fraction of the budget of the big boys".

W riting on the BBC website, he said: " I do find it slightly perverse that I am writing about the fact the station will cease to be a linear channel from next autumn."

The decision to move the channel was announced last week and is expected to save £50 million a year.

Mr Bennett, who joined the corporation from ITV, said it was "an enormous risk".

He said: " I and the small but dedicated BBC Three team were all shocked, but it is heartening that after the news sank in everyone talked about not only how to make this change work, but how to ensure the new BBC Three is world class. I am confident that the strength and depth of the existing brand, its talent, its suppliers, its staff and the love of its audience give it more than a fighting chance of not only surviving but truly being a pathfinder for the BBC in the next stage of how audiences consume its content."

About 1 87,000 people had signed an on-line petition opposing the move by Monday morning - less than a week after the decision was made public.

The funding of the BBC is in the spotlight at the moment, with its charter up for renewal in 2017.

An internal report into the subject recommended increasing the licence fee in line with inflation and raising the amount of money the BBC makes through commercial ventures.

The corporation is also aiming to make more money through a revamp of the iPlayer, which will allow viewers to access paid-for programmes from a new BBC download service which has been given the go-ahead.

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