BBC Three to be axed as a TV channel

BBC ThreeIt’s been announced BBC Three will be axed as a TV channel and become an online-only entity from next year, subject to the approval of the BBC Trust.

BBC Director General Tony Hall confirmed BBC Three will close on all TV platforms “from autumn 2015” to make £50 million a year in savings with £30 million of that going to BBC One drama.

The BBC have stressed however this isn’t the end for BBC Three and that it will be “reinvented as a new and innovative online service”.

In addition the space freed up on TV platforms after the closure will be used “to extend CBBC by an hour a night and to provide a BBC One +1 service”.

In an email to BBC staff, BBC Director General Tony Hall said:

“I’m convinced that the BBC as a creative organisation will be able to reinvent a space for young people on the iPlayer that will be bold, innovative and distinctive. It will not just be a TV channel distributed online – it will be an opportunity to look at new forms, formats, different durations, and more individualised and interactive content. It will play to BBC Three’s strengths, offer something distinctive and new, and enhance the BBC’s reputation with young audiences. And I will challenge everyone in the BBC to spend much more time focusing on programming for young audiences. We will lead the way”.

Click here to read the press release in full.

BBC Olympics channels now available

BBC - The Olympic BroadcasterThe 24 Olympics channels from the BBC have been added to the Sky EPG ahead of the Games opening ceremony this Friday. They are available in HD and non-HD.

HD customers will find the HD channels from 450 through to 473 and their non-HD equivalents from 474 through to 497.

Non-HD customers will have the non-HD channels show up first (450-473) and the HD placeholders further down the EPG (474-497).

The channels are also available on Virgin Media – channels 550 through to 597 – for the duration of the Games.

BBC Three also extends its hours to run 24/7 throughout London 2012.

BBC to launch 24 live channels for the Olympics

BBC - The Olympic Broadcaster24 live channels will be launched by the BBC for use over the London 2012 Olympics this summer.

The temporary channels will be made available to cable and satellite (Sky and Freesat) and will be available in HD as well as SD.

The BBC’s director of London Roger Mosey said “the aim is that you’d be able to pick from watching BBC Olympics 1 right through to BBC Olympics 24 with full programme guides and the ability to record your favourite sports… not every platform will be able to accommodate such a huge technical offer, which amounts to 48 channels in total if you count 24 SD (Standard Definition) plus 24 HD”.

BBC programmes in TV Favourites

BBC programmes will be added to Top Up TV Anytime’s “TV Favourites” section from June.

A message on the official Top Up TV website says “now you can catch the best of Drama, Comedy, and Factual from the BBC right here on Top Up TV… as of 3 June, you will be able to enjoy hit shows such as Life on Mars (series 1), Doctor Who (series 1), Bleak House, Spooks (series 5), Blue Planet, Himalaya with Michael Palin, Life in the Undergrowth, Little Britain (series 1), The League of Gentlemen, The Catherine Tate Show (series 1), and many more”.

HD channels on Freeview from next year

High definition will be available on Freeview for the first time from the end of next year. It has been announced that three HD channels will be launching on Freeview next year – one will be BBC HD, the second will be ITV HD and the third is Channel 4 HD. These HD channels will only appear in regions that are digital only, so this is why only certain areas will get the HD channels in 2009 and it will be staggered across the country as and when digital switchover completes in each region, finishing off with the London area in 2012.

The BBC isn’t sure on what content will appear on the Freeview version of the BBC HD channel but it’s thought to either be exactly the same as the BBC HD service on satellite & Virgin Media cable, or a variation of it – it’s not known what the broadcast hours will be on Freeview. The ITV HD channel on Freeview will air an exact simulcast of the normal ITV1 schedule and The Register says ITV will “sub-let the channel to others outside prime time”. Channel 4 HD on Freeview will also air the same as schedule as the normal Channel 4 – it’s not known if Channel 4 HD will be on air for 24 hours a day. An as-yet unnamed fourth HD channel will be announced at a later date. You will need to buy a new Freeview HD set top box to watch the high definition channels. Click here to see the Ofcom news article.

BBC Sport Interactive on Freeview

The sports section on the Freeview BBC interactive service has been improved. When you press red from any BBC channel, you can now select Sport Home which takes you to a new and improved section. The section now links to the BBCi video streams for Interactive video services and tells you what’s on now so you can easily switch to the relevant stream you want to watch. The new Sport section also has a brand new easy-to-use menu at the bottom.