The relaunched BBC channel will be available on Freeview, Freesat, Sky and Virgin Media. Platform operators will be required to give the new channel a prominent slot.
Following months of consultations and a provisional approval in September, Ofcom gave its final verdict on the BBC’s proposals this morning. BBC Three will re-launch in early February – a couple of weeks later than the originally intended January launch, as a result of the lengthy consultation process.
Ofcom concluded that the channel’s re-launch “will help the BBC to increase its reach among younger underserved viewers – particularly those from lower-income homes, and audiences who live outside London and the South East.” As part of Ofcom’s approval, the channel must deliver “first-run UK content across a mix of genres” as well as weekday news programmes.
Separately, the BBC has confirmed that new programmes on BBC Three will be available on the iPlayer for two years.
Commenting on the decision, Fiona Campbell, Controller BBC Three said:
“I’m absolutely thrilled that Ofcom have now confirmed that BBC Three will be returning to TV screens next year. This is a big moment, with the new channel providing a destination for young audiences to discover more content on the BBC. We will work hand in hand with iPlayer to provide a broad offering that is representative of the whole of the UK and we will continue to back new talent and bold ideas. This approach will bring the audience a distinctive mix of programmes that are there to entertain, inspire and challenge thinking, at a pivotal and exciting time to be young in the UK.”
Where to find BBC Three
Channel numbers for the re-launched BBC Three have yet to be confirmed.
However today, Ofcom updated its EPG code, forcing platform providers to find a top 24 slot for Freeview. Each platform operator will have up to 18 months to accommodate the channel.
Digital UK, the platform manager for Freeview, has already confirmed it will be shuffling Freeview channels down a number to fit in BBC Three – as a result Dave Ja Vu, currently on channel 23 will move down to channel 25.
On Freesat, channel 110 will be cleared to create space for BBC Three. The channel number is currently used to provide a standard definition simulcast of existing HD services.
On Sky and Virgin, BBC Three’s ultimate channel number is linked to the launch of regional versions of BBC One HD in England. This will enable the BBC to reuse the current BBC One HD channel slot. At the moment, BBC One appears in both SD and HD in the top 24 slots of the channel list. This is because the HD version doesn’t yet contain regional programmes.
BT TV and TalkTalk TV piggyback off Freeview, so will have the same channel number as Freeview.