BBC licence fee: Broadcaster blasted for flailing around in frantic panic to save future

BBC licence fee: Battle 'not weakening' says campaigner

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The broadcast watchdog approved the move after the corporation announced its intentions earlier this year. It will once again return to linear broadcast on TV screens from February next year.

The BBC made the channel online only in 2016, but said it wanted to relaunch its service in a bid to help reach younger viewers.

The broadcaster has an ageing viewership and is desperate to secure its future by drawing in millennials.

Ofcom hopes the return to linear broadcasting will also help the BBC reach younger viewers, particularly those from lower-income homes and those living outside London and the South East.

Today’s decision has been slated by critics, who argue restoring BBC Three on television screens is unlikely to make a material impact.

Giving his personal verdict, Julian Knight, who chairs the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee, told Express.co.uk: “All along I think it’s been a bizarre decision.

“It’s strange on the part of the BBC to bring back this channel which frankly has had some very questionable programmes on it in the past.”

He added: “I’m deeply sceptical about the BBC’s foray back into this once failed channel.

“But, ultimately, this is a decision for the BBC, however wrongheaded it may be.”

Meanwhile, Rebecca Ryan, campaign director of the Defund the BBC, said the decision amounted to the broadcaster “flailing around in the dark”.

She told this website: “Clearly the BBC can see their licence fee payer numbers continuing to fall and this is another futile bid to try to win younger viewers.

“More children watch Netflix than use the BBC’s TV, radio and online services combined. Meanwhile, the over-50s have had enough of being insulted, talked down to and used as a cash cow.

“Ofcom say they want the relaunched BBC Three to connect with audiences outside London and those from lower-income homes. Yet their own report highlights the lowest levels of satisfaction with the BBC are from exactly those audiences.

“The British public have had enough. More and more people are taking back control, switching to on-demand and legally cancelling their TV licence.”

She added: “The BBC is flailing around in the dark, desperately trying to keep a hold of the live TV tax instead of switching to a subscription model and seeking out a global paying audience.

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“With next year marking 100 years of the BBC isn’t it time Britons were given a say via a public vote on whether the licence fee should be consigned to history?”

Ofcom said that the returning channel must be “distinctive” in its output and at least 75 percent of broadcast hours must be original programmes commissioned by the BBC for UK viewers.

BBC Three controller Fiona Campbell said: “I’m absolutely thrilled that Ofcom have now confirmed that BBC Three will be returning to TV screens next year.

“This is a big moment, with the new channel providing a destination for young audiences to discover more content on the BBC.

“We will work hand in hand with iPlayer to provide a broad offering that is representative of the whole of the UK and we will continue to back new talent and bold ideas.

“This approach will bring the audience a distinctive mix of programmes that are there to entertain, inspire and challenge thinking, at a pivotal and exciting time to be young in the UK.”

BBC Three was well known for producing shows including Gavin And Stacey, Being Human and the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood.

Since moving online only it has also had success with Killing Eve and Fleabag.

When decision to move to online was first made in 2014, the broadcaster said changes. would save £30million.

After its relaunch in February, BBC Three will be available on Freeview, Sky, Virgin and Freesat.

The BBC has been approached for comment.

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