BBC Three, the digital youth channel, is to close, the corporation’s governing body has confirmed.

The BBC Trust said that young audiences were increasingly watching television online, as it gave the green light for the channel to be moved onto the BBC iPlayer at the end of January.

The move will free up around £30 million a year, which the corporation has said it will put into its drama budget.

The BBC estimates that around 80 per cent of the 925,000 viewers who watch BBC Three, and no other BBC television channel, could desert the corporation.

But in a move designed to retain young viewers, the Trust said that all BBC Three content would be aired on BBC One and Two when BBC Three goes off-air.