The BBC has said its youth channel BBC Three is not for sale after being made an unprecedented offer by the independent production companies behind Have I Got News For You and Harry Hill.
Avalon, the maker of Harry Hill’s TV Burp, and Hat Trick, producer of the BBC satirical show fronted by Ian Hislop, have approached the public broadcaster to take over the youth channel which is being moved online due to funding cuts at the BBC.
The managing directors of the two firms, Jon Thoday and Jimmy Mulville, are reportedly offering £100m for the channel and have written to the BBC Trust about a proposed deal.
But a BBC spokesperson said: "BBC Three is not for sale because it’s not closing. The proposal to move it online is part of a bold move to reinvent the BBC’s offer for young people.”
BBC Three controller Damian Kavanagh also took to the BBC blog to answer questions and clarify the future of the channel as the BBC Trust reviews its future. In a post titled "Ten things you should know about the new BBC", Kavanagh reiterated the stance in point one.
Thoday and Mulville have promised to increase the channel's £80m budget, while the BBC plans to slash it by more than half to just £30m and move it to an online-only channel.
Hat Trick said: “Under the new ownership, BBC Three would continue to broadcast on all digital platforms, all current contracts would be honoured and the channel’s programme budget would be increased from £81m to £100m a year. Under the BBC’s plans to take the channel online, that budget is to be cut to £30m a year”
“All original commissions would be made by UK companies and the channel would continue to be aimed at a young and ethnically diverse audience,” the production company added.