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Kavanagh named BBC Three online chief

Damian Kavanagh

Damian Kavanagh

Damian Kavanagh has been named as head of the new-look, online-only BBC Three.

Kavanagh, currently controller of BBC Daytime at the UK pubcaster the BBC, as been the proposal lead on the controversial move to switch youth-skewed linear channel BBC Three to an online-only service.

This week, the BBC formally outlined its proposal, claiming the move would help the BBC to make £50 million (€63 million) savings. The online channel will focus on comedy, drama and documentary through its ‘make you laugh’ and ‘make you think’ editorial pillars.

Kavanagh will begin in his new role in January, with interim BBC Three acting editor Sam Bickley returning to her role as documentaries boss for the channel.

Kavanagh, who briefly joined Channel 4 in 2012 in between stints at the BBC, has previously held the role of acting BBC Three controller after Stuart Murphy had exited the channel to run Sky’s flagship channel, Sky1. He has was also head planning and scheduling for the net.

Bickley had taken the acting editor post this year after the departure of Zai Bennett, who also joined Sky to run the Sky Atlantic channel following news of the BBC Three change.

“BBC Three is unique and I feel privileged to lead it in these exciting ‘digital’ times,” said Kavanagh, who has also held the role of controller of children’s channel CBBC. “We look forward to making people laugh and think, separately, concurrently and frequently with our continued commitment to comedy, factual and drama.”

“Damian did a brilliant interview in a very competitive field,” said BBC director of television Danny Cohen. “His background at CBBC means he has great experience already with young audiences and their love of digital content.

“A digital BBC Three is going to be a huge team effort, requiring the BBC and the industry to work together in new ways for a new age. I’m very confident that Damian will lead this with passion, innovation and a commitment to the highest quality content.”

Kavanagh will report to Cohen and a currently unnamed digital content director.