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Satellite TV News Cohen says BBC Three bid doesn’t add up

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The BBC’s director of television has told the owners of two of Britain’s largest independent producers that their bid for BBC Three doesn’t add up.

In a letter to Jimmy Mulville and Jon Thoday, the managing directors of Hat Trick Productions and Avalon, Danny Cohen, says large parts of the youth-skewing channel were not the BBC’s to sell.

Reiterating the BBC’s plans to turn BBC Three into an online delivered channel, Cohen told the producers:
•They would be unable to use the BBC Three brand name as it is a commercial service
•They would not have its EPG slot which is reserved for public service channels
•They would not have access to a very large proportion of programme rights which are either owned by independent production companies and distributors, already licensed to digital channels such as UKTV or owned by US studios
•They could not be cross-promoted on any BBC Service.

“In summary, it is still not clear what you would be buying for £100m. We cannot sell you the BBC brand name, the EPG slot or the vast majority of rights to programmes,” said Cohen, “We are … not able to sell you a coherent distribution plan and your proposed channel would not have the prominence in the EPG which is so important to success.”

In proposals submitted to the BBC Trust in December the online BBC Three would replace the current linear version in Autumn 2015. It would have a dedicated website with long form programming and a curated daily schedule from where viewers could jump to other shows from earlier in the day’s schedule.

The move has been brought about by the combination of the licence fee being held at current levels and the taking on of additional responsibilities such as World Service and S4C.
 
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