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18/09/2002

Government agree to BBC 'young persons' channel proposal

The Government have approved the BBC Three digital TV channel for young people, but with some of the strictest public service requirements ever issued to a television station.
BBC Three, aimed at the 25-34 age group, is likely to be launched in early 2003 to replace the corporation's existing digital channel, BBC Choice.
The original proposals were rejected by Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell last year, after she said they were insufficiently distinctive from similar commercial channels.
BBC Three will now go ahead but with the "toughest conditions ever issued", Ms Jowell said.
Unlike BBC Choice, the new channel will not use many repeats from BBC One and BBC Two but will concentrate on original programming, with the vast majority made specially for the channel.
The emphasis on new talent will also carry over to bought-in programming, with the channel prevented from using shows already established elsewhere.
It will also be prevented from buying excessive volumes of American shows, with 90% of all programmes coming from Europe.
Its schedule will now include drama, entertainment, news, current affairs, education, music, the arts, science and coverage of international issues throughout the year.
Ms Jowell has also forbidden the channel from competing with BBC One and Two, but said the channel could be "genuinely distinctive, genuinely public service and genuinely innovative" and a "powerhouse".
"I am determined BBC Three should be a distinctive public service channel that is not competing with what is already out there in a vigorous market place," she said.
"I believe the revised format will see BBC Three emerge as a real powerhouse for new talent, within which the independent sector will have a strong voice. It will be a first for British broadcasting."
There will be a review of the channel's performance after two years.
"When the channel is reviewed by me in two years time, I can withdraw approval," she added.
BBC director general Greg Dyke welcomed the decision, saying: "This has been a tough decision for the secretary of state and, looking back, I think she was right to push us to define the channel more clearly.
"I'm confident that it will bring a new public service concept to this currently underserved audience."
(GB)
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