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Stuart Murphy, who launched BBC Three in 2003, blasted the broadcaster for “over-catering” to 60-year-old white men and warned the “tide has changed” with viewers. It comes as BBC Three is set to return as a broadcast TV channel in 2022. The BBC 2020/21 annual plan, published last year, indicated there remains an available audience on broadcast television for BBC Three.
Speaking on Radio 4’s The Media Show, Mr Murphy said: “I look at what the BBC offers and if you’re a sort of mid-60-year-old white guy in southern England you’re over-catered for.
“I think the tide has changed in society and it’s no longer just the loudest people in their 50s and 60s who can dominate what the media output should be.
“There’s not lots for people under-25 on BBC airwaves apart from BBC Three.”
He also discussed the potential future of BBC Four, which traditionally is aimed at an older audience, but offered alternative channels for viewers to watch instead.
The BBC has come under fire for “over-catering” to an older southern audience
He said: “Personally, I think Sky Arts does a brilliant job, I think lots of stuff on BBC4 could run really comfortably on BBC2.
“I think the BBC needs to cater for absolutely everyone and younger audiences at the moment have big shows on BBC1 like EastEnders and Radio 1 and Radio 1Xtra cater for them, but other than that there’s not lots for people under-25 on BBC airwaves apart from BBC3.”
After the announcement of BBC Three’s return, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee chairman Julian Knight said it showed the BBC knew it was “failing to reach young audiences”.
He said: “The BBC’s decision to bring back BBC Three to our TVs is an acknowledgement by the broadcaster that it is failing to reach young audiences.
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Julian Knight said it showed the BBC knew it was “failing to reach young audiences”
“I question whether putting the clock back five years is the right way to win over 18-35s.
“The extra investment found to pay for this is also happening at the same time that those over 75 are being chased to pay up for their TV licences.”
“The BBC needs to back success and make sure its programmes reach as many young people as possible wherever they live in the UK.
“So regardless of the debates about the past, we want to give BBC Three its own broadcast channel again.
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“It has exciting, ground breaking content that deserves the widest possible audience and using iPlayer alongside a broadcast channel will deliver the most value.”
The TV channel was switched off in 2016 and replaced by an online-only version available on the iPlayer.
The new channel will broadcast from 7pm to 4am each day, which is the same hours as when it closed in 2016.
Charlotte Moore, chief content officer of the BBC, said: “BBC Three is a BBC success story, backing creativity, new talent and brave ideas has resulted in hit after hit, from Fleabag and Man Like Mobeen, Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK and Jesy Nelson’s Odd One Out, to Normal People and This Country.
The BBC licence fee currently costs £157.50
The BBC said BBC Three will be funded through “cost savings”.
A BBC Spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “We announced our intention to double BBC Three investment in the BBC’s Annual Plan 2020/21 and it’s funded via cost savings and efficiency.”
The BBC also caused fury among its older audiences last year when it announced people aged over-75 were now required to pay the annual £157.50 unless they received pension credit.
Those who did not apply were sent a letter by the BBC with the threat they would face a fine of up to £1,000 and potential prosecution if they continued to watch live television without paying up, although this will now be stopped.
The BBC also caused fury among its older audiences last year
This resulted in Lord Ian Botham writing to BBC Director General Tim Davie to urge people not to be prosecuted for failing to pay the licence fee.
The retired cricketer said in his letter: “In my view, this is institutional bullying on a massive scale and there seems to be some kind of blame game between the BBC and government.
“I’m no politician but this feels like a real scandal affecting the very frail that needs sorting out.”