Ofcom approves BBC Three return to linear | Broadcast | News | Rapid TV News
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The BBC has been successful in returning the youth-oriented BBC Three to linear TV grids after being digital-only for the last five years after UK regulator Ofcom approved its relaunch as a broadcast television channel.
BBC Three 2 March 2021
The channel will return in January 2022 offering news, current affairs, factual, drama, entertainment and comedy, targeting viewers aged 16-34 who don’t typically watch TV online.

The move, which represents a huge volte face by the UK public broadcaster, was first mooted in March 2021 as part of a drive to deliver more value to audiences and make sure its programmes reach as many young people as possible, wherever they live in the UK.

As a linear and digital channel, BBC was the launchpad for smash hit TV series Gavin And Stacey, Little Britain and Torchwood and then subsequently Fleabag, Normal People and Killing Eve on a digital-only basis.

The proposal to relaunch BBC Three as a television channel came under the watchful eye of Ofcom as a requirement of the BBC Charter and Agreement is for the regulator to ensure that any change the BBC wishes to make to its publicly funded TV, radio and online services does not give it an unfair advantage over rival broadcasters.

In July 2021 Ofcom announced that after completing its initial assessment of the BBC's proposal, it was launching a full competition assessment into the proposal, adding that that it needed to judge whether the public value of a proposed change justifies any adverse effects on fair and effective competition.

Having conducted what it said was a detailed analysis of the BBC’s proposal, Ofcom provisionally concluded that the public value of BBC Three returning as a broadcast channel justifies the limited adverse market impact. It provisionally found that the channel would increase the availability and reach of BBC Three to people who currently don’t access it – particularly viewers from lower income households and those living outside of London and the South-East.

In September 2021, the regulator made the provisional decision to allow the BBC to relaunch BBC Three as a broadcast television channel. After a process in which it says it carefully assessed the BBC’s plans, alongside evidence and feedback gathered during our consultation, it says that it has found that the channel’s potential value to viewers ultimately outweighs the limited impact it identified on rival broadcasters.

To ensure the channel is distinctive, Ofcom has ruled that at least 75% of hours broadcast each year must be original programmes, commissioned by the BBC for UK viewers. It is. also requiring the channel to deliver first-run UK content across a mix of genres, as well as weekday news programmes. As it was making its ruling on BBC Three, Ofcom added that it has already made changes to its Code of Practice on Electronic Programme Guides, to ensure BBC Three appears within the first 24 slots of on-screen television guides.

Ofcom also published its fourth annual report on the BBC's performance, which assesses, among other things, its progress in reaching underserved viewers and listeners. This includes younger people who typically spend less time with the BBC’s programmes.