back to article Tories ask: Why BBC3, BBC4?

Conservative culture front bencher Jeremy Hunt is asking what’s the point of BBC3 and BBC4? It’s a good time to ask the question. In an interview with the Independent, Hunt queried why £100m was being spent, merely to attract "very, very small" audiences. This is some way short of calling for the channels to be scrapped, as …


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  1. Nick Fisher

    BBC4... the serious documentary ghetto (and not just arts). It's arguably home to the finest programmes BBC television produces.

    Leave it well alone, please.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Keep BBC4

      Perhaps they should scrap BBC2 as BBC4 is what BBC2 should be.

      BBC1 and the red button channels can take up the slack if 3 goes too.

      BBC needs to be democratised - Let each licence fee be a vote for the DG.

      That plus transparency and we'd soon have a great and efficient service for all, hopefully with less blatant government bias.

      ... and they should pay for wireless broadband to less populated areas too.

      1. Paul 4


        hahahahahahahahagenral population voting for more arts programinghahahahahahahahahahahaha you owe me a new keyboardhahahahahahahaha

        BBC 4 exists BECAUSE the BBC can do non commercial programing, not dispite it.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          4 is the magic number, except when it's 6

          BBC Four is the BBC television channel I watch the most, or rather Sky+ and iPlayer the most programmes (who watches anything live these days, except sports fans). Although if there's an HD version available I take BBC HD version. =D

          Radio 4 is the BBC radio channel I listen to the most, or rather podcast and iPlayer (listen to it in the car too).

          6Music is the music radio station I listen to the most, but I cannot have it in my car. :(

          Goodness, Rupert Murdoch and his minions must hate me! But surely these stations are the one that fits the BBC's remit the most and likes of BBC One and Radio 1 and Radio 2 the very least?

    2. Gordon Edge


      Completely agree.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Salford Quays

    "It isn’t really near anywhere, but the plan is for it to become a "destination""

    Do your homework, El Reg - the site is next to The Lowry theatre & arts centre, situated in the middle of an area where there are already a lot of media places, is opposite the Imperial War Museum North and MUFC, and is a couple of miles outside Manchester. Salford Quays is a very popular area particularly in the summer, where numerous triathlons have been held during the summer months, including the Commonwealth Games, and there are countless apartments springing up around there all the time. The Quays are already something of a destination, but the presence of the BBC and whatever they bring will doubtless see more people coming to the area.

    No, I don't work for the BBC, Salford Council, or the Quays - I just come from Salford myself and it infuriates me when people appear to take the blinkered "Salford? That's up north, where the cobbles, whippets and rain are," viewpoint without actually doing their research first. Hmph.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Salford Quays

      I know Salford very well, Peter, and I stand by that. It's 2.6 miles from Piccadilly, further if you drive, and more than 20 minutes on Metrolink.

      It isn't even on the main Metrolink line. MediaCity will have its own very expensive little spur - another example of the poor subsidising the rich, and the North forking out to make the South comfortable.

      - Andrew

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Salford Quays

        The intention of the Salford Quays regenation project is to make the South comfortable.

        What sort of doublethink is that?

        Let's just sling as much mud at it and hope that some of it sticks. I'm pretty sure White City is around 20 minutes by tube to (the other) Piccadilly too, middle of nowhere right?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @the North forking out to make the South comfortable

        What, you mean the North forking out to make the Man Utd supporters comfortable?

        Back when I used to get The Observer - though by this stage only for the TV Guide - Janet Street Porter became Editor and the guide got reformatted as one guy's recommendations for the week. So, on the night both Man Utd, and Chelsea had games in the Champions League the reviewer recommended the Utd game, and failed to acknowledge Chelsea even existed. This was a game at Stamford Bridge back when Chelsea had never lost a European game there. It was against Lazio as I recall - so, for footie fans, a really exciting prospect. And in one fell swoop the Observer TV Guide became a waste of space. So I wrote in to complain (as I am wont to do). I got a reply from Janet Street Porter saying the format had been chosen by a 'focus group' and (reading between the lines) 'tough shit'.

        Same culture as the Beeb I reckon.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Re: Salford Quays

        Yes Salford Quays is only 20 mins from the centre of Manchester by tram - on the main Eccles Line - accessed from Broadway station. Compare that with London where you spend 10 minutes of each Tube journey going up and down escalators.

        Plus its very close to the M602 and M60.

        Southerners subsidising the North? I'm sure there was a Panorama programme a few years back which proved the opposite - all those South East government jobs and defense contractors sucking on the tax payer's mams.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Whichever way you look at it...

      ...Salford is still a shithole. Even if it does have a royal charter from King Alfred. And here's me with a bright pink "In Salford" bath towel. ;-) That said the move of the BBC to GMC is likely to be a "game changer" over time, although I use this term reluctantly.

      The point I think that Andrew is trying to make is that Media City is a typical "buildings first, infrastructure later" development. The overspend is at least in part down to pandering to the pampered few who are being force to relocate, bless their soft southern hearts.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Missed the point

        "Media City is a typical "buildings first, infrastructure later" development. The overspend is at least in part down to pandering to the pampered few who are being force to relocate"

        Salford is actually under budget.

        Is the London projects that are over budget, albeit by around 10% which isn't actually that much on projects of that scale.

  3. Bilgepipe
    Thumb Up


    Because BBC3 has repeats of Doctor Who (which then conveniently show up on the iPlayer and can be..... obtained).

    No other reason necessary.

  4. LouDobby

    Tories ask: Why BBC3, BBC4?

    Tories ask: Why BBC3, BBC4? In return for NewsCorp election support....

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      No win situation

      There is no way the BBC can escape criticism in this argument, and this is not because of what they do, but because of their wide audience of people with different viewing needs and opinions.

      The fact that there is such a spirited set of arguments just proves that the BBC is being inclusive, and is probably doing it well. There is no way that everybody can agree on a single set of programming, and even if they did, it would then be criticized for being non-imaginative middle-of-the-road crap. It is the ONLY broad-spectrum media organization in the UK, and is probably the best in the world.

      I do not particularly like period costume drama, but I accept that there are people who do. I do not like sport either, but I am not calling for either of these to be taken off. Same with Soaps. I do like much of the BBC 3 output, it allows programs that would not be carried anywhere else to be made, but it does get a bit repetitive (that's why it is actually so cheap). BBC 4 is useful for its arts and historical documentaries, and especially for its Proms coverage.

      If there is anything on air that needs reviewing, it is the output from the biggest critic of the BBC, that being BSkyB. Just try to spot what they actually commission, rather than buying in.

      Brainiacs, sport coverage, a handful of popularist book dramatizations, some elimination entertainment shows (following the herd) and a whole raft of police or customs reality shows and out-take shows. Are they really a good yardstick to compare the BBC to?

      Everything else is American big-budget shows (some of which I quite like) and Matt Groening cartoons, but nothing they have actually MADE. Even though Sky carry a huge number of channels, they actually produce almost nothing of value themselves (Hogfather and The Colour of Magic excepted - but these were very rare).

      If you need to free bandwidth up on Freeview, dump Sky 3 (just a placeholder really) and half of the shopping channels (Bid, Pricedrop, Ideal, Create and Craft, QVC - do we need them all), and some of the +1 channels. (I would also vote to return YeSTERDAY back to the UKTV History format). And definitly get rid of the Bingo and Roulette pap and Babestation exploitative junk. These last two catagories do not need replacing, just removing (really, there is much better free real-porn online if you want it).

  5. Gavin McMenemy

    Being Human?

    Best thing on the telly this year so far.

    Oh; and MonkeyDust amongst a few other gems. BBC3 does sometimes get it right.

    BBC4 does also occasionally get it right - Newswipe being a good example.

    The problem is, as Andrew points out, that really few programme commissioners have any idea what people want. I really don't feel catered for.

    I'd like to know what's being argued for? Fewer channels with better programming? That really doesn't seem to chime with what token Tory is actually saying.

    1. The Original Ash


      They put that on the BBC? I thought it would be more Channel 4's bag (JAM, Brass Eye etc).

      I'd watch MonkeyDust + [adult swim] all day long.

    2. Ed Blackshaw

      but why not scrap BBC3 and BBC4

      get rid of the tripe that has taken over BBC2, and put the decent programming (such as NewsWipe) back there. The problem is more that the stuff worth watching that might once have half-filled two channels is now spread thinly over four, with filler in between. I mean, the entertainment news on BBC3, FFS, who do they think they are, Channel 5?

      I watch being human occasionally, just because it is set in Bristol, where I happen to live. it is reasonably entertaining, however some of the acting is appalling, especially from the werewolf bloke with the funny ears.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BBC4 Rules

    About the only intelligent life on the airwaves other than it's namesake Radio 4.

    Might as well cancel Radio 4 as well if you are removing it's only TV based equivalent.

    I will emigrate to Asia if we lose the last bastion of culture paid for by the license fee...there'd nothing else keeping me here...

  7. Ned Fowden

    why bbc3?

    well to be honest, every now and again it'll throw up a decent show, Being Human is one of those (don't ask me to name any more because thats the only one i watch)

    as for BBC spending, i think everyone has pretty much given up on grumbling because nothing happens ... controversy is started but we rarely see anything along the same lines as the recent/ongoing MP expenses stories.

  8. Simon Grierson
    Thumb Down

    BBC3 and 4

    Most of the programming that is on BBC3 and 4 ends up on BBC 1 and 2 repeated anyway, or simply channel-swapped. Torchwood, Little Britain, Screenwipe, QI, Shooting Stars, Heroes, etc.

    If they took BBC3 and 4 off the air, they could fill BBC 1 & 2 with fewer repeats and more programming. And get rid of Snog, Marry or Avoid...

    1. SynnerCal
      Thumb Down

      Save POD!

      Sorry, don't agree - SMA should be transferred to BBC's 1/2 - it's a hoot, all these dozy post-teenies who have been putting the slap on with a shovel. It's also a very useful programme for pointing out to one's daughters "do you really want to look like _that_!?"

      I could quite happily miss the rest of the content though - repeats of Doctor Who, Torchwood and EastEnders.

  9. max allan

    The Beeb are the new Apple

    "I suspect that many grumblers don't really dislike the BBC - it's just the Beeb now provides so many reasons for people to dislike its behaviour"

    Sounds like Apple could come into the same situation. People don't dislike it, they just don't like it's behaviour of trying to stifle Android by hitting HTC and locking their hardware and software so you can't do what you want with it.

    (In fact lots of people would very much like a shinier laptop)

    1. Anonymous Coward

      RE: The Beeb are the new Apple

      Are Apple locking their hardware and software? I am quite capable of writing, compiling and running my own OSX programs. I'm not the only one either as a quick web search for "osx software" will show (google returned 11million+ entries). So no "locking" there.

      ...and what the f**k has HTC/Android/Apple have to do with the BBC anyway? Nothing. You're just an Apple-hater, aren't you? (and not even a very clever one)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        I think that was aimed at the iPhone... *headdesk*

  10. pootle

    Argh! lose BBC4?

    With programmes like horizon now spending 20 minutes of poncy fluffy mood shots, and 6 minutes repeating themselves ad nauseam, leaving 4 minutes for actual content - oh and the credits of course, I find most of the shows worth watching are BBC4 these days, like the excellent Virtual Revolution. Quite a few seem to be OU based / assisted.

    If BBC4 goes (and they choose not to move content to BBC2) then I think I just fetch my coat.

    1. SynnerCal
      Thumb Up

      In defence of BBC4

      Personally I would have thought BBC4 is more worthy of holding on to than BBC3. Couldn't agree more with the sentiments re the continuing dumbing down of Horizon - how long before it resembles Brainiac on Sky?

      On the other hand BBC4 seems - to me at least - more in keeping with public service broadcasting - excellent shows like V.R. mentioned, along with the ones on physics and chemistry from Jim El-Kallili. Just took a quick look at the RT page and there's a pretty wide spread of documentaries on today - and no fwuffy widdle lambykins (a la BBC2!) in sight.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Public sector

    no clue on reality, the boom times still keep on rolling for those guys......

  12. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects 1

    Czjd de fouqup

    The best thing about the BBC at the moment is that BBC 1 and BBC 2 are so crappy that having a copy of the Radio Times is proof of not needing a TV licence.

  13. Eponymous Cowherd


    is what you watch if you think CBBC is too intellectual.

    1. Marcus Aurelius

      BBC3 is what I watch when

      "Being Human" is on.

      1. StooMonster

        BBC HD is what I record when

        "Being Human" is on.

  14. Nev
    Thumb Up


    ...exists to give politicians a good kicking some mornings on the Today programme.

  15. Daniel Bennett

    BBC3 >>> BBC2

    If BBC2 had BBC3 shows.. then fine. Get rid of it.

  16. Steven Jones


    BBC4 is exactly the sort of thing the Beeb should be doing. It's effectively what BBC2 was meant to be before it went populist. No channel which has programmes about z list celebrities flogging bric-a-brac to raise small amounts fcor charity can claim to be anything else.

    In contrast, BBC4 has had a whole series of decent documentary series which have trouble finding space on the main stream channels.

    I can't say the same for BBC3 - more of a repeats channel plus some more dubious stuff aimed at mass audiences.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BBC 3/4 on BBC 1/2

    Quite a bit of 3 and 4's output ends up on BBC 1 & 2... particularly the better stuff. If BBC 4 was an 'arts ghetto' why would any of its shows be shown on terristerial?

  18. richard 69
    Grenade you know why they're moving to salford?

    the real reason that some of the bbc departments and resources are going to salford is in case of a terrorist strike on least they can't wipe out the whole of the government controlled media.

    and bbc3/bbc4 should be scrapped and just take the best bits for bbc2.

    1. Jim Morrow


      this must qualify as the most stupid thing said here.

      the bbc didn't move out of london during ww2: you know, the time when the nazis carpet bombed the city on a regular basis. they will already have bomb-proof studios and broadcasting facilities for national emergencies. these must have been upgraded during the cold war as part of all that civil defence bollocks. so the idea that the bbc or the could be shut down by a terrorist attack in london is beyond stupid. the same goes for other critical national infrastructure, like the phone system.

      the reason the bbc has expanded its bases in manchester and glasgow is simple. they have to be seen to be a national institution. so they can't have everything done in london and have the rest of the country pissed off because everyone who works for the bbc lives in hampstead or notting fucking hill.

      1. richard 69

        sorry you are wrong

        my friend works for the architects involved. trust me, it is in case of a terror strike in london. if bbc london was struck, as least national broadcasting could continue from manchester.

        ww2 was quite some time ago, the technology has moved on....

  19. A J Stiles
    Thumb Down

    History repeating

    They said exactly the same thing about BBC2, before the 405-line service was discontinued.

  20. phuzz Silver badge


    Look, threatening to take away my 6 Music pissed me off, but threatening to shut BBC4? It's the most intellectual, non-dumbed down television, probably anywhere in the English language. Shutting it down would be somewhere up there with torching the British Museum in my books.

    (oh, and Being Human was ok, but I felt it didn't really connect the sit-com aspects with the horror storyline that well)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE: BBC4

      Being Human had "sit-com aspects"? Maybe if I'd noticed those, I wouldn't have decided to throw it in the "tedious crap" bucket.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why BBC1, BBC2?

    Every night feels like Saturday night on the telly these days.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      BBC1 and BBC2

      If anything BBC1 and BBC2 should be scrapped. They're full of utter shite (and we've already got ITV1 filling that role nicely).

      BBC1 is stuck in Saturday night pleb hell, and whenever I flip past BBC2 it's either showing later runs of content from 3 and 4, or Ceefax pages.

      Give me BBC3 and BBC4 any day (apart from their short broadcasting hours).

      1. Jimmy 1

        Re: BBC 1, 2, 3, 4

        This discussion plays directly into the hands of politicians who believe that 'our' public service broadcaster, bought and paid for with our money, is at their disposal to carve up in order to appease the slavering Murdoch and his marsupial progeny.

        The political fix is already in place with the establishment of the BBC Trust and its full complement of nodding donkeys.

        Constructive criticism of how our money is spent should be directed at BBC management; politicians should be comprehensively told to fuck off and concentrate on rebuilding the economy that they wrecked with their lunatic free-market and deregulation policies.

  22. Dibbles

    Love it

    "The remit is to be ‘populist’ and attract young viewers, but since BBC staff rarely venture further north than Muswell Hill, it’s a strange mix of somebody’s idea of what ordinary people might like who has been away a long time, with the emphasis on the demotic. For example the ‘comedy’ has lots of swearing, to cover up the lack of wit."

    Quite astute, that, and quite cutting. But yes, for a corporation that seems to see itself as the arbiter of quality, taste and 'public interest'*, the BBC is really giving people rather a lot of rope with which to hang it.

    *- liiiike.... BBC News: "The Sun has effectively ruined Jon Venables' chance to a fair trial over any charges he faces. Jon Venables looks like this, here's Jamie Bulger's mother, an interview with a child psychologist, and 15-minute rotations on BBC News 24". Good work all round.

  23. sleepy

    Scrapping BBC1 & BBC2 would save more money

    Scrap 1 & 2.

    Tack local TV onto the front of BBC3 & 4 each evening.

    Save lots of money.

    Let the masses discover that BBC1's main job has been to brainwash us that the 3 "main parties" represents us, and that the current incumbent represents the majority of us.

    Actually, I wouldn't mind if the BBC was internet and radio only. Buy just the TV programmes I want to watch. Which is approximately none. An even bigger saving.

  24. mwk

    I don't know why BBC4 would be expensive

    It only operates in the evenings, and STILL manages to show the same programme twice a day.

  25. Christian Berger

    You don't know what you've got

    Seriously, even the worst of the BBC is still way better than anything people from other places get.

    1. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge


      I've seen TV in a lot of countries, and the Beeb is the best bar none. BBC4 may not draw the crowds of BBC1 but it's content can't be that expensive to make - surely interviews of or by Griff Rhys-Jones etc. can't cost the earth.

      As for BBC3: Monkey Dust. I'd pay my license fee over again just to experience that for the first time around once more.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      That doesn't turn shite into a silk purse.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why Tories ??

    Interesting isn't it.

    Large Appeal Programmes with big audiences - "the BBC shouldn't be chasing the populist route with big budgets big names"

    Minority programmes (which remotely intelligent programmes seem to have become) "how can the BBC justify this money spent on such a small audience"

    And yes, BBC3 and BBC4 only broadcast in the evenings. However the rest of the day they are Cbbc and cbeebies.

    The North paying to keep the south comfortable ?!?? Really ?

  27. Richard Gadsden 1


    BBC4 is what BBC2 was thirty years ago.

    The point of BBC3 seems to be to have experimental programmes. If they're experimental, then a lot of them are going to be bad - by definition, if you knew it was going to be good, it wouldn't be experimental, would it?

    If they're good, then they transfer to 1 or 2 for obvious reasons - they aren't experimental any more, are they?

    And if we're saving 3 for Being Human, let's save 4 for Only Connect as well.

    1. Alastair Smith


      Only Connect is the best quiz show on TV. Fact.

  28. Nigel Callaghan
    Thumb Down


    It's obvious that BBC3 is targeted at those younger persons whose brains have been so addled with drink and other substances that they can't remember that the programme they're watching now is the same one they saw yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that and three times last week, and twice the week before. Wouldn't it be easier to have BBC5,6,7,8,9,10 etc - with one channel showing '2 pints of lager' on a continuous loop, another showing 'Being Human' on a loop, another with Dr Who etc.

    Does anyone have any statistics on how many times each episode of Dr Who has actually been transmitted?

    Okay, I know it's not just the Beeb at fault - how many times has each episode of Poirot appeared on ITV3.

    In fact, come to think of it, shouldn't the Tories be asking 'Why Digital'?

    1. Rod MacLean

      @Nigel Callaghan

      "Does anyone have any statistics on how many times each episode of Dr Who has actually been transmitted?"

      No, I can tell you this though. In December there were more ads featuring David Tennant as Dr Who (and which were NOT for Dr Who) that these adverts had more airtime than Dr Who actually had...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Nigel Callaghan

      "In fact, come to think of it, shouldn't the Tories be asking 'Why Digital'?"

      For years I have been thinking "shouldn't the Tories be asking 'Why bother'?".

      It looks like they'll win the next election though, so we'll get to replace one load of incompetent, corrupt morons with a slightly posher set of incompetent, corrupt morons...

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Keep 'em guessing

        "It looks like they'll win the next election though, so we'll get to replace one load of incompetent, corrupt morons with a slightly posher set of incompetent, corrupt morons..."

        If the only choice is incompetent, corrupt morons then at least we can keep each party in power for the shortest period possible, never give them a chance to get comfortable and cause too much damage. Four/Five years of the Tories will at least mean that Labour's ID scheme is killed stone dead and the national deficit is brought under control. If Labour are back in power after that they will kill the dumb Tory projects and clean up their messes, ultimately it may mean some sort of equilibrium, nothing will improve but at least it never gets worse. Well that's the hope ...

  29. Dave 142

    Evening Only

    The reason they're evening only is that the channels are used for CBBC and CBeebies in the day and there is no way that the BBC could get rid of the kids channels.

  30. Adam Salisbury

    Keep 4 - Ditch 3

    Everyone else who's said is dead right, lose BBC4 and that's the last of the intelligent thought-provoking TV gone, the rest of it I feel would be far better enjoyed after sustaining a massive head injury. BBC3 does come out with some good comedy but it usually turns up elsewhere sooner or later and as far I'm concerned if you've not got enough content to broadcast a channel all day then you don't really need it.

    1. Rod MacLean


      I can't see why anyone would want to ditch 3 and keep 4.

      I watch 4 from time to time, I watch 3 almost every night (Family Guy is on just when my flatmate goes to bed).

      There's also Charlie Brooker's show (which raises a few laughs) and don't forget that good shows like "The Inbetweeners" started on BBC3 and have now migrated to BBC1/2.

      Personally, if it was up to me, I have more reason to stop BBC1 and BBC2. Most of the output is complete crap. Weekday TV has "The One Show" and "Eastenders", both of which I could easily live without). Weekend TV seems to consist of celebrities learning to dance/skate and a crowd booing if anyone says they're anything less than perfect. I can do without that too, tyvm.

      I wouldn't want to lose QI XL though!

      1. Steve Power
        Thumb Down


        Yeah Rod MacLean, Charlie Brooker's Newswipe (now repeated on BBC2) was first shown on BBC4. The Inbetweeners was first shown on E4... your point about BBC3 being worthwhile is what exactly?

        Or am I missing something?

      2. wondermouse

        Leave 4 alone

        BBC 4 has some of the most interesting shows around.

        For example the French co-production Spiral, which was truly excellent and would be unlikely to get an airing on a commercial channel.

        Plus the archive shows that they show on 4 are priceless!

      3. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        @Rod MacLeam

        Totally agree with all you say there. BBC 3 is my favourite BBC channel by far

  31. Anonymous Coward

    What a 'BBC1'?

    Use MythTV to record the things you like. Doesn't matter what side they're on. We need programming like BBC3 and 4 to facilitate intellectual lift. There isn't space on 1 and 2 for the lowest common denominator and everything better. MythTV because iPlayer sucks.

  32. Noogie Brown


    The only good thing on BBC3 was pulling, but it was too good so they cancelled it for some mindless repetitive "comedy".

  33. Alastair 7

    @Nigel Callaghan

    "It's obvious that BBC3 is targeted at those younger persons whose brains have been so addled with drink and other substances"

    Grr! Kids! Get off my lawn!

    I get really tired of people endlessly criticising BBC3 because they, personally, don't like it. It's been the launching pad of a hell of a lot of shows- some of which (Gavin and Stacey, Torchwood, etc) then make the move up to the bigger leagues.

    I like this system a lot- they make a load of low budget pilots / series, and BBC3 serves as a proving ground. A lot more interesting than the previous thought process- "We need a new comedy series. People loved Only Fools and Horses, which desperate actor can we get to star in a spin-off?". Unfortunately, it does mean that a number of BBC3 shows fail, but that's the way it goes.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    If you like Radio 4.....

    Not hugely relevant to the article but if you like Radio 4 try listening to Resonance FM on 104.4 and online at

    One Life Left is pretty geeky but just about the only show about computer games and the industry behind it being broad cast in the UK.

    1. Richard IV

      I would but...

      I've still got about 6 months worth of WNYC's Radiolab ( to catch up on. It's like what Horizon used to be way back when it wasn't obsessed with Super-volcanoes and Mega-tsunamis.

  35. John Mangan

    An intractable problem . . .

    It seems to me that the whole point of the BBC, since it is not funded commercially, should be to product the kind of programmes that commercial broadcasters can't/won't/don't. The problem with that, of course, is that almost by definition such programmes will not be popular (or at least not popular enough to justify the interest of a commercial channel) and everyone will then complain that they don't get value for their licence fee.

    If the BBC tries to keep everyone happy by producing 'popular' programming then the obvious question becomes why don't they just operate on a commercial footing?

    Truly a circle to be squared!

    On the whole I believe the BBC successfully navigate between the Scylla and Charybdis of their charter. I lament the sad decline of science programming such as Horizon and the rise of (from my point of view) mindless soaps, cooking and makeover shows but I applaud some excellent dramas, news and comedy (which the commercial channels rarely even approach in quality).

    I can't pick an appropriate icon from the menu available.

  36. Andrew Garrard

    I *was* going to object...

    But I had a look at tonight's schedule, and I have to say there's not much on BBC 3 I'd watch (except Family Guy, and I've seen them). There's more tat than I remember, but I *do* tend to check BBC 3 and 4 when planning my viewing. Most of the best of BBC 3 is also on HD, to be fair, although 3 gets more repeats - Being Human, Harper's Island (yes, I know, an import), Dr Who... there has historically been plenty more, but I'll admit it's been a little while.

    BBC Four is an easier sell. I'd watch most of what's on tonight if it wasn't a repeat, or didn't clash with two other programmes that I'd rather see.

    Okay, these aren't mainstream channels - but if "the public" want to watch reality TV and talent shows, I'm very glad they exist. It's harder to find good television on 1 and 2 these days - of the twenty or so shows that I have series linked, there are only a couple of BBC 2 comedy panel shows that are terrestrial BBC.

  37. Gareth Gouldstone

    BBC asks 'Why the Tories?'

    or should that be 'whither'?

    Please just leave the BBC alone. It may get many things wrong, but it is the anchor for quality, advert-free programming in the English-speaking world. Once it has gone (or been commercialised) we shall be over-run hundreds of channels showing low-budget programs, with adverts every 2 minutes.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Why Gareth?

      If a program attracts a big audience, then adverts can pay for it. If it doesn't, then let's club together and keep it going through subscriptions.

      Wake up mate, it's 2010 and we don't stick a Poll Tax on poor people just so they can watch Come Dancing. Or build billion quid palaces.

      1. Gareth Gouldstone


        The Licence Fee is a mandatory subscription, just like National Insurance. A little from many to maintain a common standard of service no one individual could hope to buy for themselves..

        How could the BBC survive on a voluntary subscription basis? It would have to take advertising, and that would kill it for me and for most other people who prefer their viewing unadulterated.

  38. James Dunmore

    BBC 3 is to...

    BB3 is to family guy, what E4 is to friends (ditto repeats, and ditto "next weeks episode" on that as well).

    Great if you love family guy (although most people who do, own a copy of the box sets), otherwise, erm pretty pointless. Most of the additional content 3 shows (glasto coverage, etc.) could be shown on the red button anyway.

    Don't like 6music, but this should be saved over bbc3&4.

    The whole bbc is doomed really - TV should be on-demand, pay for what you use - no more, no less.

  39. Alan Firminger


    Yes, I cannot see the value of BBC 3 .

    I can see the value of Radio 6 .

    The BBC is the most fantastic integrated cultual organisation imaginable. That may not be a good thing, but I suspect that everyone in the UK gets value from it, directly or indirectly.

    The Beeb itself told us recently that the UK now exports more intellectual property than the US .

    Remember a prime minister telling us we had to be a knowledge based economy. Well it has happened. Some of that is the likes of ARM, but much is cultural. The Beeb can be proud of its direct and its indirect contribution.

    So tinker with the Beeb at our peril. Hacking off a limb because it is accessible and not many people will complain is dangerous.

    The Ross and Brand row illustrates. They did nothing wrong, formalised as pushing the boundaries. What was terribly wrong was paying them so much to do it.

    Birt gave the Beeb accountants. So now it awards fat salaries and spoils itself with grandeur. The answer may be to give the DG a salary of 100 grand and sack 90 % of the accountants. If employees complain tell them to live off the culture, it's terrific.

    1. Gareth Gouldstone

      John Birt gave BBC accountants ...

      and the conservatives (John Major) gave the BBC John Birt!

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Give stuff for free, also known as "export"

      "The Beeb itself told us recently that the UK now exports more intellectual property than the US ."


      It's easy to export something for (almost, totally) free when you first steal it from taxpayers. A privilege companies in US don't have, they actually have to make those shows with their own money first.

      Notice also that while US companies _sell_ their products (for a nice profit) BBC gives them away in vain hope that someone watches them. BBC would be in real trouble if they had to sell something and selling anything made in BBC for profit would be impossible due the absurd production costs.

      Some very nice programs, but not enough to fill even one channel.

      1. breakfast Silver badge

        The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

        Does the BBC not sell programmes for international consumption? That was certainly the impression I had got.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: whither

      “The Ross and Brand row illustrates (sic). They did nothing wrong, formalised as pushing the boundaries. What was terribly wrong was paying them so much to do it.”

      In the case you’re referring to, Brand’s show DID breach BBC editorial guidelines and there wasn’t sufficient editorial control. But don’t take my word for it, take the Beeb’s -

      One thing the BBC’s report notes is that the average age of the Brand’s listeners was 50 and more than 40% over 55, so I’m not sure the argument is that Brand’s audience are predominantly hip, young thangs who like the envelope being pushed and wanting boundaries being pushed by rather childish messages being left on an old man’s answerphone etc. etc. is a fallacy.

      With this case, the person (the producer) who should have exercised editorial control over Russell Brand was in a bit of a problem as his boss was a certain Mr. R. Brand.

      The reason the likes that Brand and Ross get paid so much is that their shows are made by the own production companies – and although Ross’ shows were taken off the air for a bit, his company was paid compensation (i.e. it still got paid).

      So as well as being financially rewarded far, far more than if they were humble employees (although the net cost to the BBC is arguably the same as if such shows were BBC productions), this arrangement effectively gave hosts editorial control.

      Incidentally, Ross and Brand have (or did have) the same manager, the same chap also represents a fair proportion of BBC 6 hosts. Not long after Sachsgate, questions were asked why so much ‘independent’ talent the BBC using all had the same manager.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ditch 3 keep 4 you say ?

    Most of the grumbles about BBC3 are entirely justified - its purely aimed at brain dead youngsters who should be down a coal mine froth ... rant ...

    Actually, most of the grumbles about BBC can be explained away by demographics. A demographic which, aside from my ritualistic family guy viewing, I am not part of.

    I can't stand the dumbed down adolescent attempts at sitcoms. Which means - they are probably doing something right.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I agree with a Tory.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @moultoneer resonance fm

    I stumbled across resonance FM one saturday afternoon a while back. A music programme was on. Possibly the most eclectic, astonishing and plain bloody weird music programme I have ever heard.

    If the rest of their programming meets this sort of standard I'd be tempted to move to london.

    In the meantime - could you record their entire output and make it a torrent please :`)

    1. Rob Davis

      ResonanceFM: Listen via internet inc. mobile - halt DAB & offer license fee rebate to DAB owners

      You can listen to ResonanceFM anywhere in the world via the internet - and you don't need a PC.

      Instead you can use the Revo Pico Radiostation dedicated internet radio with your WiFI connection.

      Or listen on an internet radio player app on your mobile, e.g. on Nokia 3G phones, most data packages with 3G phones are generous enough now to offer many hours of listening and many operators don't fine you if you stray over the fair-use policy limit, just send an advisory, with throttling if the allowance really gets abused. But for most this might never occur.

      The BBC should have been wholeheartedly embracing these platforms instead of DAB.

      If they halted investment in DAB immediately and offered a one-off license fee rebate to everyone who bought a DAB radio then they would take a one-off finances hit or maybe break even, but longer term they would free up cash that has been wasted on DAB's ongoing costs and development of other limiting one-to-many digital platforms such as DAB+ (too late) and Digital Radio Mondiale (similar atmospheric caused reception limitations as AM).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Wifi 3G you say ?

        Neither of which are any bloody use in a car, where I and I suspect many others listen to the radio.

        Using 3G to listen to the radio ? Seems an awful waste of resources/bandwidth. But even that aside, pretty bloody useless if you are trying to listen anywhere without good 3g coverage (large parts of the UK) or while moving at anything above walking pace.

        Broadcast radio is a good technology that fits its purpose pretty well. the alternatives are technically more complex while being less useful.

        1. Rob Davis

          @Wifi 3G you say ?

          "Neither of which are any bloody use in a car, where I and I suspect many others listen to the radio."

          WRONG! I get near perfect internet radio coverage, for example, via 3G on the M27 in Hampshire from central Southampton to Havant using my Nokia N95 or N82 with Nokia Internet Radio Application over Vodafone.

          I can't speak for every region but at least I can give an example covering a fairly large area - can you?

          "Using 3G to listen to the radio ? Seems an awful waste of resources/bandwidth."

          No - if the operator gives an allowance of 500Mb/month it is up to you then its up to you how you choose to use it. I choose to use it to enjoy internet radio. That is my entitlement. You can use your allowance for youtube or email or whatever - that is up to you.

          My account shows (and Vodafone themselves assure me) I don't even come close to this limit for the 45min morning and evening commute each working day each month. Also, to restate, exceeding this allowance doesn't incur a fine but other reasonable measures are taken.

          Internet radio is very efficient, as state of the art as can be, with modern codecs such as AAC+ and eAAC+ providing good listening quality at very low bitrates, e.g. 48kbps.

          "But even that aside, pretty bloody useless if you are trying to listen anywhere without good 3g coverage (large parts of the UK) or while moving at anything above walking pace."

          Please back up your statement with your own personal experience or reference to a good survey. Obviously it won't work without 3G coverage but where it is available, it does.

          "Broadcast radio is a good technology that fits its purpose pretty well. the alternatives are technically more complex while being less useful."

          Over-generalisation: it depends on the technology - for FM I would agree with you that this works well. But for DAB in a car, no, sorry, this is no good at all.

          Again *from personal experience* I bought a good brand DAB adapter for my car stereo for a road trip. It was fine when I was stationary but when I moved off either no reception or the dreaded burble. I took it back got a refund. I use mobile internet radio now and haven't looked back.

          "the alternatives are technically more complex while being less useful."

          Over-generalisation: sure mobile internet radio is not quite as basic as just turning on the FM radio, but it sure isn't too complicated either.

          Switch on phone, select Internet Radio Application, plug in cassette adapter jack into headphone socket of phone, insert cassette adapter into cassette drive of car stereo and off I go, leaving it completely untouched (because no need to fiddle -and also legal req.) for the duration of the journey.

          Relax and enjoy radio from all over the world instead of white-van-man blandsville provincial tinpot local radio with carpet ads and diy store ads radio with boring rock or a break from the BBC.

          Moreover, internet radio provides precise and more detailed info about listeners rather than RAJAR so apart from the listener advantages, broadcasters get some as well.

          There, I hope I have enlighted you.

    2. El Richard Thomas
      Thumb Up

      Eclectic, astonishing and plain bloody wierd music

      If that's your bag try the Spanish Radio 3, you'd love it ;-)

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  43. Anonymous Coward


    I'm sure the Beeb could save at least £100Million a year by just putting on a image of a freshly Emulsioned vertical surface on between 6.00pm and 9.00pm on a Saturday evening. It would be more interesting and inteligent that the usual stuff they have on at that time.

  44. Greg J Preece

    3 + 4 = 2

    I'm with some of the other posters above. Take all the good bits of BBC3 and BBC4, squeeeeze them together, and call it BBC2. Sorted!

    Just because something doesn't pull in the viewing figures of Eastenders doesn't mean it's crap. In fact, often it means the exact opposite.

  45. John Fielder

    Stop knocking the BBC, please

    Whatever you might think of some of the programs, the BBC does NOT have adverts. If we loose it, we will get even more adverts on the other channels. Look at the obvious breaks in US TV programs, sometime just after the titles.

    Remember, quality TV means that you will love some of it and hate some of it. Poor TV just panders to the lowest common denominator

    1. Chris Miller

      I support the BBC, but

      it *is* increasingly full of adverts, albeit adverts for other BBC programmes and channels. On radio, it appears that such trails are considered more important than the actual programmes (e.g. 'Today' interviews curtailed in order to fit in some pointless trail that I've heard 20 times before).

      But at least they don't interrupt the programmes half way through (yet).

      1. Magnus_Pym

        Not just adverts

        but also the preview before each advert break and the recap after that allows a program maker to use the same bit of program three times in each broadcast. Just another way in which thin content is spread even thinner.

        If you really want to be afraid of the future of broadcasting watch Chelsea Handler preview the last section of the show which turns out to be essentially saying goodbye to the audience.

  46. Stevie


    They've come a long way since the days of over-recording classics like Dad's Army to save a bob or two on video tape, and no mistake.

    Pass the pearl tongs, I fancy another glass of wine.

  47. Matthew 25
    Thumb Down

    Digital only...

    "Both channels broadcast only in the evenings, and only on digital."

    For a growing number of people digital is all there is. Don't worry, I'm sure the switchover will happen for you one day :)

    1. Glyn 2


      And when you do get digital, you'll realise that the picture is carp and blocky, everything freezes and jumps periodically and occasionally the picture and sound fall out of sync.

      And that's if you can find something to watch. 100 channels to choose from and nothing on any of them. If digital TV is the future, I'd rather go to the past where there were 3 channels and at least 1 thing to watch each night.

      </technological prima donna grumpy old man rant>

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Not to single out the Beeb

    The public sector has been relatively awash with dosh and shows all realistic indications that it should never, ever be awash to the same or similar levels ever, ever again.

    While MPs naively consider adding 10% to a public service provider will automatically generate a 10% improvement in service delivery they overlooked wholly and completely an inherent ability, trait and strain for senior managers to hive off additional funding through beneficial (to them) restructuring. Basically all that happened was the dosh was directed into pockets that MPs naively overlooked.

    It really should be researched and identified so that the same is avoiding in future.

    It is a modern trend for sure muchly braked by finance sector me-too-isms (now there is a turnaround for the history books)

  49. Simon Preston

    Although I agree to an extent...

    ...quite frankly anything that comes out from the Tories regarding the BBC has an underlying agenda. That being whatever Rupert Murdochs agenda requires of them. So I question their motives.

    But yes, BBC3 could go. But BBC4 needs to stay. Or pull it back towards BBC2.

  50. Jim Wilkinson
    Thumb Down

    4 is the old 2

    Since Beeb 2 went populist, we need 4 for the quality and speciality stuff (like the Sky at Night I just watched). I'd happily see 3 evaporate.

    I'd have thought there were some 4-watching intelligensia in the Tories. Now I'm not so sure.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Stick the good stuff back on 2, and save a hundred million quid.

      That means a couple of fewert cookery shows. Would you really miss em?

  51. Christian Berger

    Anybody complaining about UK television....

    should be forced to watch only German television for a month.

    Our commercial stations are like reality shows on BBC three, only done horrifyingly badly. They are not designed to show something remotely related to reality like on your channels, but instead only meant to humiliate the participants.

    And public stations are only mildly better.

    They take this seriously:

    This has _nothing_ to do with traditional bavarian music. This is just a brainless obscenity. It's not even provoking.

    Of course there are rare events when even German TV is good. One example is Ijon Tichy:

    Or the German knock-off of "The Office", "Stromberg"

  52. LiamK


    BBC3 and BBC4 primarily exist to justify the slots that are used for CBBC and CBeebies in the daytime.


    - Merge the best bits (bit?) of BBC3 into BBC1 - the populist channel.

    - Merge BBC4 (all of it) into BBC2 - the elitist channel

    - Get rid of some dross in the process

    - Use the current BBC3 slot for BBC1+1

    - Use the current BBC4 slot for BBC2+1

    (Yes, I dislike those names as much as you - and as much as Channel 4+1... but that's the "standard"...)

  53. Faster Better Greener

    Scrap BBC1 & dance on its shite grave

    Although, come to think of it, 'Dancing on Graves' would make a great primetime format...

    BBC3 should be retained for the sole purpose of showing those exciting new sports recently premiered at the Winter Olympics. Four headcases catapulting themselves down a mountain simultaneously on skis or snowboards. But I want to see that done not just on skis, but with axes, swords, pikes and halberds. In a nod to the channel's heritage, the commentary should be done, with suave lounge-lizard intonation, by Brian the talking dog from Family Guy.

    BBC4 should be given over in its entirety to Jonathan Meades. Primary school children should be compelled to watch and then given vocabulary tests. Failure to deploy complex multi-syllabic nouns in an effortlessly ironic manner will be punishable by death or, in extreme cases, by transportation for life to Stevenage.

    BBC2 would ideally consist solely of wall-to-wall Horizon, revived to the standards of its peak output.

    The Commissioning Editor who convinced a publicly-funded institution that wasting an hour of its HD airtime each night for a week on "Lambing Live" must be eviscerated without delay.

    All BBC employees who have ever been involved in any Talent or Reality Show, or any Soap, will be publicly disemboweled. The punishments will take place in a regionalised 'road show' format in order to facilitate direct engagement with the widest possible audience. The audience is advised to bring a rusty drill.

  54. LC

    So I'm a braid-dead youngster, am I?

    BBC3 is the BBC channel I watch most at the moment - Being Human, Snog Marry Avoid and Dancing on Wheels are some of my favourite shows. Maybe Joss Whedon should try doing a show for BBC3 instead of Fox?

  55. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Russell Howard's Good News

    When you think about what he's saying and not his choirboy looks, he's filthier than Billy Connolly, and the show is a bit too much like "Harry Hill's TV Burp" although that's not very much, but it's good stuff.

    Sharing a space-time avenue with the wonderful children's channels (The Sarah Jane Adventures is thoughtful sci-fi and Sorry I've Got No Head is genius comedy if you're twelve, I assume, although I'm not so it looks rubbish, Marcus Brigstocke can do no wrong unless the tabloids prove me mistaken, and no Boobahs) is a technical accident, but who wants to watch BBC Three or BBC Four stuff during the day anyway? Skivers and students, and you should be working. Or use the BBC iPlayer, it's on cable.

    By the same token, "Coming of Age" is probably the new "Young Ones". I'm 43 so it's disgusting.

    As for building overspends, I thought that was because the original designs didn't take into account suicide truck bombers or something like that. Now you're getting something that would still be in one piece if it had been built on Alderaan before Darth Vader stopped by. Of course Jim Naughtie would be left interviewing Bail Organa in the middle of an asteroid belt about whether it's even physically possible to "blow up" a planet, but they'd be cosy.

  56. Anonymous Coward


    I don't understand the BBCs mentality on these bollocks channels with bollocks programming. A large proportion of the general public have bought HD TVs in the past half a decade. The BBC have barely cobbled together a single HD channel that seems to transmit the 'test advert' 22 hours a day. The excuse is the lack of bandwidth to transmit a HD feed over Freesat (and for unrelated reasons Freeview).. yet they clog their valuable bandwidth up with BBC 3, BBC 4, BBC Alba, Cbeebies + 2 hours 46 minutes, etc. etc.

    Just keep it simple. Chuck all this lot in, create BBC HD 1 and 2, broadcast it 24 hours a day with HD content that is already created & available but broadcast in SD.....

  57. Wize

    @AC 11:15 - HD?

    BBC3, 4, Alba et all are a mere drop in the ocean compared to all the regional versions of BBC1 & 2. To show them in HD would require all of them being transmitted in HD via freesat. Dropping all their other channels won't make a dent in that bandwidth.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Charlie Brookers Newswipe

    Is the best piece of current affairs on TV, full stop. Everyone should watch him and he should have a show every week of the year to show us just how crap our news reporting, public officials, and we ourselves as a society are.

  59. bexley

    anyone with kids will tell you that...

    ....cebeebies is watch by an awful lot of the nations children.

    In my view it is not an excess of channels that is the problem but the Lowest common denominator style of programming that they make.

    It's still by far a much more worthwhile enterprise that the commercial offerings. NO matter what anyone says it will always be the envy of the civilised world and i shudder to think of the Murdock's Britain that we will end up with should the BBC have it's wings clipped.

    Somebody shut this guy up and tell him to tell the BBC to curbv their buildings spending - which is suspect was not paid for by the taxpayer, the BBC have an enormous property portfolio and they have sold a lot of it in recent years, i suspect and hope that they used the revenue from that to pay for their funky new buildings.

    In anycase, they are one of the few decent employers left in the industry and i for one would liek to see that preserved.

  60. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Good, bad

    THE DAILY SHOW from America is good, but it's on More4.

    Britain's John Oliver is on the team. (Traitor!) If you watch channel Dave you'll see him on some MOCK THE WEEK episodes. I don't know what else he's done.

  61. Richard Fletcher

    Bad TV is good for you

    Surely bad tv is good for you. i.e. the worse the tv, the less likely you are to watch it, the more likely you are to have meaningful interactions with those you love. Perhaps we should be pushing to get rid of BBC1&2 and radio1-4.

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