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Axed BBC3 gives corporation chance to become a 'truly digital public service', says expert

Posted on 07/03/2014

The closure of BBC Three as a TV channel will give the corporation the chance to become a “truly digital public service”, according to television expert Dr James Bennett, from Royal Holloway University.

Dr Bennett argues that the BBC must do more than simply move the channel online, but needs to offer more “unique, innovative and playful” ways to broadcast its content.

“The BBC’s first ever axing of a television service offers the chance to reinvent public service for a youth audience in the digital era”, said Dr Bennett, from the Department of Media Arts at Royal Holloway. “The move also offers the opportunity for the corporation to stop viewing the internet as simply pipes to shove television down.

“Instead it must harness the creative power of the UK’s digital industries which offer unique, innovative and playful ways to understand public service online. They’ve been doing it for over a decade, with and without the BBC. Modern audiences need less talk about programmes and more about services, applications and interactive content.”

The academic said previous BBC Director Generals have failed to fully embrace the digital culture and argued that its current boss Lord Hall must try and move away from the corporation’s “linear legacy”.

“Lord Hall, upon his appointment as the BBC’s Director General, promised us the reinvention of the BBC as a ‘digital hub’”, he says.

“If he’s not to go the same way as Mark Thompson, who promised us a ‘360 multiplatform organisation’, or George Entwhistle, who briefly pledged us a future of ‘genuinely new forms of digital content’,  then the axing of BBC Three must truly be more than the move of the channel online.

“The BBC’s vision of the internet has become dominated by iPlayer and the distribution of programmes online. To move beyond the linear legacies of the corporation’s broadcast culture, the BBC must embrace the opportunity to do what successive Director Generals have failed to deliver - a truly digital public service.”



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