Pooped ‘Pops’ faces slide down to BBC3

U.K. version of tune skein airs in 112 countries

LONDON — BBC1’s 40-year-old music chart show “Top of the Pops” could be relegated to the less-than-popular digital web BBC3 if ratings don’t pick up, according to BBC1 controller Lorraine Heggessey.

Execs are unhappy with the show’s performance. It recently had a record low of 2.8 million viewers, this despite a major relaunch two years ago when it was attracting 4.3 million viewers.

“Top of the Pops,” which began on New Year’s Day 1964 and celebrated its 2,000th edition last year, is the longest-running music show on British television.

Licensed all over the world by BBC Worldwide, local versions have sold to RTL in Germany, France 2 in France, BNN in Holland, Jim TV in Belgium, RAI2 in Italy and pan-Arabic web MBC. The U.K. version airs in 112 countries.

Sour note

However, it has suffered from drastic changes in record-buying habits.

In the first quarter of this year, the sales of singles by number and value fell by 42%. By contrast, Internet downloading, which is not measured by the charts, is becoming a primary means of consumption for young music fans.

Andi Peters, a former children’s television presenter, has been appointed to revamp the show to make it more relevant. Peters, who used to present the links between children’s programs on BBC1, went behind the scenes to launch Channel 4’s successful youth and music strand, T4.

Chris Cowey, exec producer of “Pops” for the past six years, quit after learning that Peters would be appointed above him.

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