Ofcom opens BBC Three competition probe | Major Businesses | Business | News | Rapid TV News
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In March 2021, in what amounted to a huge volte face by the UK public broadcaster, the BBC confirmed the return of BBC Three to linear TV grids after a five year absence and being digital-only, but now the UK’s broadcast regulator has announced that it is to investigate the move.
BBC Three 2 March 2021
Ofcom has announced that after completing its initial assessment of the BBC's proposal to launch BBC Three as a television channel in January 2022, it was launching a full competition assessment into the BBC’s proposal.

BBC Three stopped broadcasting on the UK’s broadcast network as of February 2016 following a review by the BBC Trust in November 2015 which called for the corporation’s non-core channels – including BBC Three as well as CBBC and BBC One+1 – to go digital-only. The Trust said at the time that its plans would enable the BBC to deliver more distinctive content online, while bearing down on costs.

Yet while undoubtedly cutting costs - and being the original home for smash hit TV series Gavin And Stacey, Little Britain and Torchwood as linear channels and then subsequently Fleabag, Normal People and Killing Eve as digital-only offers that particularly appealed to younger audiences - the move was revealed as having led to audiences disappearing in masses. However, as part of what it says is its drive to deliver more value to audiences, the BBC said that it now needs to back success and make sure its programmes reach as many young people as possible, wherever they live in the UK. And that regardless of the debates about the past, it wanted to give BBC Three its own broadcast channel again.

Yet in its initial assessment of the proposed BBC Three television channel, Ofcom concluded that its relaunch would constitute a material change to the BBC’s UK public service activities. It added that given the change also raises a number of potential competition issues, impacting several parties, it considered a full BBC Competition Assessment (BCA) is necessary to allow further scrutiny of its plans.

On 8 July 2021 Ofcom published an ‘invitation to comment’ as the start of its assessment of the BBC’s proposal. It has written to the BBC to set out the conclusion of its initial assessment and the next steps it will take.

Ofcom said that it would complete our competition assessment within six months. During this period, it said it would conduct a detailed analysis of the BBC’s proposal and consult on a provisional decision as to whether the BBC may proceed with the relaunch.