BBC3 Will Cost Us £25m a Year, Assert UK Commercial TV Companies

06 March 2002

Britain's commercial TV industry, responding with alacrity to an invitation from culture, media and sport secretary Tessa Jowell, has claimed that the advent of BBC3 – a new digital youth oriented channel from the British Broadcasting Corporation – will cost them collectively £25 million ($35.54m; €40.83m) in annual revenues.

Secretary Jowell had asked the broadcasters to quantify their notional loss if the BBC rival is approved in its present form. They are alarmed that the new publicly owned channel – although not carrying ads – will rob them of viewers (especially in the lucrative 16-34 age group), advertising income and, in the case of pay-TV channel E4, subscription revenues.

Young adults aged 24 to 35 are already “super-served” by the market, argues the commercial lobby, and licence-payers’ money should instead go to BBC4, launched last weekend and targeting older viewers with its emphasis on the arts and factual programming.

The respective budgets for the two new BBC channels are £97m and £35m, the lion’s share going to BBC3. A radical reversal is espoused by the commercial companies, who argue that extra money diverted to BBC4 would incentivise viewers of 55+ (the age group most resistant to change) to switch to digital TV.

Data sourced from: The Times (London); additional content by WARC staff