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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 October, 2004, 11:59 GMT 12:59 UK
BBC digital TV review at-a-glance
Little Red Tractor on CBeebies
Patrick Barwise described CBeebies as a 'triumph'
A government review of the BBC's digital television services has concluded BBC Three and BBC Four offer poor value for money.

The report's author, marketing professor Patrick Barwise, looked at whether BBC Three, BBC Four, CBBC and pre-school children's TV channel CBeebies all met their remits.

Prof Barwise made recommendations based on his findings.

Here is an outline of the report's key findings:


  • BBC Three is a "distinctive" channel meeting a tough remit in its attempts to develop public service broadcasting relevant to 25-34-year-olds.

  • The channel has had "great successes" with programmes such as Little Britain, Monkey Dust and Little Angels.

  • But it has had a limited impact on its target audience and has failed to "reconnect" them back to the BBC.

  • The viewing among older audiences is "very low", impairing the channel's ability to drive digital take-up.

  • BBC Three should concentrate on making programmes with a broad appeal - focusing on "edgy comedy and new talent" - and release itself from the narrow target audience.

  • The BBC should explore ways of starting BBC Three earlier in the evening.


  • BBC Four "exemplifies" the BBC's traditional, self-confident public service values.

  • BBC Four's viewing share and reach is very low, partly due to its low budget, which was 35.2m in 2003/04 - only 35% of BBC Three's budget.

  • The BBC should think about giving BBC Four's precedence over the other digital channels in increasing its budget, as the channel has the older audience age profile.


  • CBeebies is a "triumph" with a feeling of integrity and public service.

  • The BBC should be "congratulated for its success" with CBeebies.

  • CBBC is a "distinctive" service with a high proportion of UK-produced high-quality content.

  • The BBC should tackle concerns with the tone and style of the CBBC channel, including the "relentlessly youthful" presenters and virtual absence of anyone looking older than 21.

  • CBBC should exploit the BBC's archive more fully by selling programmes to rival commercial broadcasters, thus increasing the budget to be spent on new programmes.

  • The BBC should explore rebranding the CBBC channel to distinguish it further from children's programmes on BBC One and BBC Two.


  • The BBC's interactive television services - BBCi - have been a success overall, with a relatively modest budget.

  • Up to four million people used the service during Wimbledon. Other success stories include some editions of Newsround, on the CBBC channel, and Richard II, which was broadcast live from The Globe in London on BBC Four.

  • The BBC should improve the speed and navigation of BBCi, which would likely increase the usage of interactivity "significantly".


  • The BBC-led project Freeview has been the main driving force behind digital take-up in the last two years.

  • However, relative to their combined programme budgets, their low viewing figures means the contribution to this success by BBC Four, BBC Three and CBBC and CBeebies has been modest.

  • The BBC should strive to increase digital take-up by providing digital programmes with a broad appeal to attract more in the over 35-age group.

  • The BBC should also continue to promote digital television by focussing on the extra choice it provides.


  • All four digital channels have largely delivered their public service obligations as set out in the remits.

  • BBC Three and BBC Four are not yet delivering big enough audiences but are "fairly good value for money".

  • CBeebies represents excellent value for money, costing each household 3p per month, while CBBC provides very good value for money.

  • The digital channels cost each television licence-payer 57p per month.


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