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BBC Three relaunch proposals revealed

by RXTV-newsdesk
Normal People - BBC Three

The BBC has revealed its plans for the relaunch of BBC Three next year and how it will fit in with BBC One, Two and Four.

BBC Three favourites produced during since its old linear channel was closed, such as Normal People (above) and This Country will be given timeslots on the relaunched channel.

Subject to regulatory approval, the channel will return as a linear channel in January 2022. Nearly £80 million a year has been set aside for the channel, plus £3.5 million to cover the cost of relaunching it.

BBC Three will have a mission to target young audience groups not currently well represented by the BBC, including those from ethnic minorities and ‘working class’ audiences in Scotland, Northern Ireland, northern and central England. It will broadcast from 7pm – 4am each night, timesharing bandwidth with CBBC, which will revert to closing at 7pm to cater for BBC Three from 2022.

The BBC has called on Ofcom to ensure the channel secures a slot in the first 24 channels on each digital TV platform – BBC Three’s old channel numbers have since been reallocated in the five years it has been off-air.

Planned programme structure

Programmes between 7pm and 9pm will include shows catering for 13-15 year olds, as a stepping stone up from CBBC. The core BBC Three target audience will remain 16-34 year olds.

Under proposals published by the BBC, programmes on the channel can be grouped into nine categories:

Competition and wind down formats – e.g. RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, Glow Up, The Rap Game UK.
Identity shaping British Drama – e.g. Conversations with Friends (by Sally Rooney), Superhoe (by Nicôle Lecky).
Fresh, young take on News & Current Affairs – e.g. Is this coercive control?, Music’s Dirty Secrets: Women Fight Back.
Regional, unapologetic and aspirational shows – e.g. Angels of the North, Nail Bar Boys (w/t), Bricking it (w/t).
Unfiltered first-person portrayals – e.g. Leigh-Anne Pinnock on colourism (w/t).
New exciting Comedy talent – e.g. Live Comedy in partnership with the Comedy Association, Starstruck.
Bespoke partnerships with BBC Sports, BBC Sounds and BBC News
Young and iconic repeats from across the BBC – e.g. Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out, Normal People, This Country, My Left Nut.
Coming of age acquisitions and films – e.g. Good Trouble, Awkwafina is Nora From Queens, Fort Salem.

Proposed schedule

At its relaunch, the channel’s schedule will be split in to the following strands:


7:00pm Showcase of broad favourites, suitable for both BBC Three’s core audience and younger viewers.

8:00pm Launch of originations alongside narrative repeats (i.e. a repeat of a programme within seven days of its first showing).

11:00pm Comedy zone, including programmes from BBC Three’s back catalogue.

Midnight-4:00am: Repeating the earlier schedule alongside other key content from BBC iPlayer.


7:00pm – 4:00am A space for programming blocks such as film nights, sporting and music events and innovative talent tie-ins to create participatory experiences.

BBC Three will continue to commission programmes for the iPlayer first, with content then filtering through to the linear service.

In peak viewing time (7pm to midnight), the BBC is proposing that 24% of hours will be first-run, with repeats accounting for 76%. This is very similar to the previous BBC Three channel that, for example, in 2014/15 had 26% first run and 73% repeats. Original BBC productions (i.e. programmes commissioned by the BBC but including first run and repeats) will make up 70% of broadcast hours.

A public interest test has now commenced, and interested parties have been given until 16th April to comment on the proposals.

Consultation Questions

1: What do you think about the potential public value of our proposals for a BBC Three broadcast TV channel, including the extent to which our proposals contribute to the BBC’s mission to serve all audiences through the provision of high quality and distinctive output and services which informs, educates and entertains?
2: What do you think about the benefit to audiences who will watch the channel, as well as wider potential social and cultural impacts?
3: What impact (positive or negative) do you think our proposals for a BBC Three broadcast TV channel might have on fair and effective competition?
4: Are there any steps you think we could take to minimise any potential negative effects on fair and effective competition or to promote potential positive impacts?

Other BBC channels

The relaunch of BBC Three is part of a wider adjustment to the BBC’s linear channels. BBC Two will become the home of the BBC’s specialist programming centring on premium and distinctive factual programming, driving greater impact, thanks to better funded titles with longer iPlayer availability. It will remain a multi-genre channel (particularly retaining its role as the pipeline of factual entertainment for BBC One). BBC Two takeover BBC Four content, providing these programmes with exposure to a larger and broader audience. The channel will also commission less drama, saving the money for BBC One or BBC Three.

BBC Four will, as announced in the BBC’s 2020 annual report, focus on archive programmes, with an emphasis on arts and music.

The return of BBC Three

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