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Equity calls for BBC3 savings to be invested in emerging talent

Christine Payne, Equity general secretary Christine Payne, Equity general secretary
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Union Equity has claimed that a planned £30 million boost to drama following BBC3’s move online should be invested in emerging talent.

It is also demanding that performers are “rewarded appropriately” for the future exploitation of their work online.

The BBC Trust is currently considering the Corporation’s plans to close BBC3 as a channel and reinvent it online. The BBC says that the £50 million saved from the closure of the channel would be used to invest in the new online offering, as well as to “strengthen BBC1”. £30 million would be used for drama on BBC1.

Responding to the Trust, Equity said it “tentatively” welcomed plans to invest £30 million into BBC1 dramas, but said that – given the origin of the money – it should be used to support “young and emerging talent”, including writers, directors and performers.

In its response, Equity stated that it was concerned that “pressure exerted by politicians and media rivals” had forced the BBC to “narrow the range of services available to the public”.

“The fact that 27,000 people, including many of our members, have signed a petition against the decision demonstrates that the decision should not be taken lightly,” it said.

It added that it did not believe that the option of BBC3 as a broadcast channel had yet been “exhausted”.

However, should plans for BBC3 to move online be approved, it said arrangements must be put in place to recognise the rights of performers whose work is exploited across channels and online platforms.

“It is essential that the rights of artists are protected and that they are rewarded appropriately for the future exploitation of their work, especially considering the fact that the BBC can generate more than £1 billion through worldwide sales of its content portfolio,” it said.

The union added that plans to use BBC3 branded products on other channels should maintain “current original content budgets, content production levels and fees for performers”.

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