BBC wants to start BBC Three at 3pm

Thursday, June 11 2009, 12:56 BST

By Andrew Laughlin

A proposal to move the start time of BBC Three forward to 3pm has been met with caution by the BBC Trust.

In its Younger Audience Review, the Trust revealed that BBC executives have put forward the idea of moving the channel's start time from 7pm to 3pm in order to "improve reach and value for money".

However, the Trust was sceptical about the move, citing concerns about how such a change could negatively impact the "funding and levels of quality of the whole BBC Three schedule". It was also concerned about what moving the daily start time would mean for the BBC's overall use of its allocated digital terrestrial broadcast spectrum; at present, BBC Three shares capacity on Freeview with CBBC.

It said: "While we understand the logic and potential benefits of this in terms of meeting audience expectations, we will need to consider any formal proposal for extension in the context of the BBC's overall use of digital terrestrial spectrum and its affordability, as well as the need to maintain the quality of the whole BBC Three service."

Despite this, the review acknowledged that BBC Three is becoming "increasingly effective" at servicing its target audience, and the Trust noted that there was strong support for an earlier start time particularly among people aged 13-17.

This includes a successful backing of new talent, with 77% of airtime being directly commissioned programming.

However, the channel's online penetration remains minimal, despite this offering "considerable potential for the BBC to maintain a connection with young people".