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Public petition to save BBC Three

Tony HallA petition signed by more than 270,000 people opposing plans to take youth-skewing network BBC Three online only has been delivered to the BBC Trust.

Campaigners delivered the petition in person yesterday to the BBC’s governing body on the final day of the public consultation into the plans to move the linear channel online.

A small rally was held outside Broadcasting House, joined by Labour MP John McDonnell, who tabled a motion in parliament last year opposing the closure of the broadcast channel.

Campaigner Jono Read, who set up the online petition to save BBC Three, said “we presented three boxes full of signatures. The Trust say they are listening and will report back in the coming months on their findings.”

The BBC announced plans to “reinvent” BBC Three as an online-only channel last year. In detailed proposals published in December, the corporation said the move would generate savings of £50 million (US$77.2 million) and allow the corporation to experiment with new content.

At the time BBC director-general Tony Hall (pictured) described the plans as the “most exciting and ambitious proposals” since he has been at the BBC, though he admitted that “with the licence fee frozen, we’ve had to make difficult decisions.”

Last month, UK production companies Avalon and Hat Trick announced that they were attempting to take over youth-skewing network BBC Three.

However, BBC Three controller Damian Kavanagh stressed that the network was “not for sale”, claiming that the new BBC Three will continue to make comedy, drama and documentary programmes and will also make digital content and short form video for platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr.

In a statement, Avalon said: “We believe that the closure of BBC Three as a linear channel and its migration to a much reduced version online is a huge mistake both for the BBC and for the licence payer. There is analternative way.

“Avalon and Hat Trick wish to offer to pay the BBC fair value for BBC Three. ‘BBC Three’ in this context means the ongoing right to broadcast original and acquired programming currently offered under the brand name BBC Three. If necessary we would operate the channel under a new brand name.”