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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 17 September, 2002, 09:23 GMT 10:23 UK
How BBC Three tried again
The revised plans included more comedy shows like The Kumars
The revised plans included more comedy shows like The Kumars
It was a case of back to the drawing board for the BBC when the government rejected the initial plans for BBC Three last September. BBC News Online looks at how the corporation changed its blueprint.

Culture secretary Tessa Jowell decided the corporation's plans to replace BBC Choice with the new service were not "distinctive" enough.

Three digital channels - BBC Four, CBeebies and CBBC - were approved and have already been launched.

On refusing the initial application Ms Jowell said she was not convinced that BBC Three had anything new to offer.

Drama shows like The Cops formed part of the new plans
Drama shows like The Cops formed part of the new plans
"There are already a number of other broadcasters in this part of the market," she said.

"The plans available from the BBC are insufficiently clear to me to be confident that the proposed service will offer public value proportionate to the impact on the market."

BBC bosses targeted the 25-to-34 age group with the new channel, but conceded some of the 18-to-25 audience, which Sky One and E4 are keen to attract, would also watch.

New talent

The revised plans increase the amount of news and current affairs on the channel, with more emphasis on education, music and the arts.

Along with a greater commitment to establishing new talent, plans now include 15-minute news programmes each weekday in peak time, with hourly bulletins until midnight.

Jennifer Aniston's Friends is an E4 highlight
Jennifer Aniston's Friends is an E4 highlight
The channel has promised to produce each year at least 30 new half-hour current affairs programmes, 30 hours of new education programmes and 50 hours of new music and arts programmes.

There is to be more online and interactive support, with at least 20% of the channel's output supported interactively.

BBC Three is planning to produce 90% of its programming in the UK, 80% of which would be original.

But there was anger from Channel 4, who wanted the plans thrown out because BBC Three would affect the ratings of its digital offshoot E4.

Tim Gardam, Channel 4's director of programmes, recently said the renewed BBC Three application was more likely to entice Channel 4's younger audience and reduce advertising revenue, which it partly spends on public service broadcasting.

Tazeen Ahmad and Sumit Bose
Earmarked for BBC Three: BBC Choice's 60seconds news
Mr Gardam said BBC Three was "setting out to undermine the ability of Channel 4 to raise the revenue to fund its public service remit".

He thought the proposed service would mainly target a younger audience and that would rob Channel 4 of five per cent of its viewers and E4 of 15%.

But a BBC spokesman said: "We don't believe that BBC Three will take revenues and thereby damage investment by the commercial sector in UK production."

The BBC also pointed to a poll it recently commissioned which showed 74% of the UK population were in favour of the new service, with 85% of the key 24-to-35 group backing the channel's launch.

The channel's would-be bosses promised cutting edge drama in the vein of This Life and The Cops, as well as new comedy along the lines of The Kumars and Marion and Geoff.


BBC Three debut

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