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Friday, 7 December, 2001, 16:56 GMT
Jowell opens BBC Three debate
Tessa Jowell
Jowell: Wants BBC Three to be distinctive
The public has been asked for its opinion on the BBC's new application for its digital TV channel BBC Three - a proposed replacement for BBC Choice.

Consumers and the industry have until 25 January to let Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell know what they think of the BBC's revised plans, after its initial proposal was rejected in September.

The channel will offer young adults as rich and diverse a mix of genres as our audiences have come to expect from the BBC

BBC statement
The plans include what it describes as "much clearer commitments particularly in news, current affairs, education and music and arts programming".

In seeking the views of the public and industry, Ms Jowell asked that people bear in mind her reasons for turning down the original application.

Although she accepted the corporation's plans for three new digital television services and five new radio services, Ms Jowell said a new public service for young adults should be truly distinctive.

It should add to, rather than duplicate, what other broadcasters already provided, she said.

Greg Dyke
BBC Director General Greg Dyke: Surprised by original refusal

The BBC said its new proposal had been developed after extensive research into the needs of the target audience, and the state of current provision in the market place.

In a statement issued on Friday, it said: "We firmly believe that young adults feel that digital television has little to offer them, and are under-served by traditional public service broadcasting.

"A new and distinctive channel offer is needed to ensure that the BBC serves them better."

Mark Thompson, BBC Director of Television, said the corporation had listened carefully to the audience and to Ms Jowell in drawing up its proposals.


"BBC Three is a critical part of our aim of providing a digital television future for every viewer, regardless of their ability to pay," he said.

And Stuart Murphy, controller of BBC Choice, who has been developing the proposal, said: "BBC Three will aim to break new formats, to move British television forward and to set standards in broadcasting in the digital world."

Under the new plans, the BBC said BBC Three would have five core commitments.

These would be to focus on "intelligent new entertainment and drama".


At the same time, it would seek to use 15% of its output to broadcast news, current affairs, education music and the arts.

About 80% of airtime would be devoted to programmes specially commissioned for the channel. Of that, 90% would be made in the UK.

BBC Three would, it said, also be committed to the BBC's targets for independent production from across the UK's nations and regions.

The BBC statement added: "In a typical evening BBC Three will seek to challenge and stimulate as well as entertain its audience."


It said its output would include "cutting-edge drama which paints an uncompromising picture of the way we live now, in the tradition of Cops and This Life".

It said it would also include "bold" new British comedy and a "backbone of high-quality and well focused news and factual programmes".

The consultation period closes on 25 January 2002 after which the secretary of state will consider responses and make a decision in due course.

A full copy of the BBC's new proposals for BBC Three are available on the DCMS website.

The BBC's Nick Higham
"The new channel (BBC Three) would have been too similar to existing commercial rivals"
Tessa Jowell, Culture Secretary
"It's for the BBC to comeback with a new proposal that is distinctive"
See also:

07 Dec 01 | TV and Radio
BBC outlines 'radically different' channel
14 Sep 01 | TV and Radio
Dyke 'optimistic' on BBC Three
11 Jun 01 | Entertainment
Jowell's job at the top
11 Jun 01 | TV and Radio
Tessa tackles in-tray
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