Women comedians rally round BBC Three

Kate Stone

Kate Stone

A list of comedians, actors and presenters have put their names to an open letter to Rona Fairhead and Tony Hall in a bid to save BBC Three. Currently the BBC plans to relegate the channel to online only, however the open letter states that the channel is vital for new talent to emerge: “Disastrously the closure and move online will remove at a stroke a vitally important outlet for new talent and innovative ideas, where some of the most successful and influential names currently working in British television were given their first chance.”

Katherine Ryan, Jenny Eclair & Ellie Taylor
Katherine Ryan, Jenny Eclair & Ellie Taylor

Funny women Katherine Ryan, Ellie Taylor, Lolly Adefope, Jenny Eclair, Lucy Beaumont, Olivia Colman, Rachel Parris, Roisin Conaty, Sharon Horgan and Tiff Stevenson to name but a few are among the list of high profile names to sign the letter.

The full text is here:

Dear Rona Fairhead and Tony Hall,

We, the undersigned, wish to register our dismay at the BBC’s proposals to close BBC Three as a channel available to all and its planned reduction to a service only available online.  Disastrously the closure and move online will remove at a stroke a vitally important outlet for new talent and innovative ideas, where some of the most successful and influential names currently working in British television were given their first chance.

BBC3 Three has cost the licence fee payer over £1 billion over the last 10 years. Closure will write-off this investment, which would be unthinkable in a commercial environment. The BBC management proposes to use this valuable slot as a catch-up channel for BBC One, putting it in direct competition with the world’s best catch-up service, the iPlayer, on which the BBC has also spent millions of pounds.

The BBC has a duty of care to develop new talent and cater to all audiences. Currently, less than 1 per cent of the BBC budget is spent on programming for the 16-24 age group.  The management is now proposing to reduce this to under 0.6 per cent. To disenfranchise the young viewer and pull back from the funding of new ideas and new talent risks endangering the engagement of future generations with the BBC.
The effect of this reduction will probably lead to a similar reduction by commercial broadcasters which no longer need to compete, with the consequence that the audience of the future will no longer include television as one of its major sources of entertainment.

We call upon the BBC to immediately reinstate the funding to the channel and halt its plans for closure. We believe it is vital that the BBC’s future should include more than tokenistic funding for a young, diverse audience and for new talent.
We are facing a tipping point for British broadcasting. Either the BBC can continue to cater predominantly for an increasingly elderly audience or it can take the lead and safeguard its position as a beloved and relevant public broadcaster by investing in the talent and the audiences who are the building blocks of the future. Safeguarding the future of BBC3 as it currently exists is the key to this.

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